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Are full-time stripes a negotiation snag?



From that I’ve read and heard, the most talked about lockout issue coming from the NFL Referees Association is the pension plan. Currently the officials receive a traditional pension when they retire, and, apparently the NFL wants to make the officials’ retirement funda self-managed 401(k)-type plan.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in January that he expected to make a handful of the officials to full-time. In my opinion, within five years all NFL officials will be full-time league employees. It seems the NFL doesn’t want the retirement status quo and doesn’t want to pay the full-time officials a traditional pension.  I think the NFL would rather match a percentage of an official’s salary, and let the official manage their own retirement account or mutual fund. If all of the officials are full-time in five years (the typical length of the NFLRA collective bargaining agreement), it is possible that the NFL would want to shed its pension obligations to the officials before the officials become full-time NFL employees.

As an outsider that has no knowledge of the current negotiating tactics, it seems the full-time officials issue has to be the missing puzzle piece, and the one that all the other pieces connect to.

Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"