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NFL, referee union deal may be near



After a month of silence, the typical 11th hour negotiation cram sessions are now underway between the NFL and the NFL Referees Association. The game officials have been locked out since June 3, but negotiations have resumed today after sitting on ice for 34 days.

Mike Arnold, lead negotiator for the NFLRA, issued a short statement:

Reports on the economic gap between the NFL and NFLRA are inaccurate. Ongoing negotiations with the NFL will be conducted in a confidential and professional manner.

The focus is on the money, because it is easily digestible “score” for the  public to understand. The dispute is far more nuanced than that.

We laid out the other three issues: pension, creating full-time positions for some referees, and the expansion of the officiating pool from 17 crews to 20 crews. But the list has to be worked on in reverse order, ending with the pension. Then, the pluses and minuses that each item brings each side affects the change in compensation. But, as for charting that progress in the media, x-dollars difference between the two sides.

Perhaps a deal can be reached in time to get the union officials on the field. But, soon, it will be the 11th hour for the 11th hour.

Update: An NFL spokesman responded to our request that they declined to comment.

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)