NFL executive vice president for football operations, Ray Anderson, clarified the NFL’s proposal regarding full-time officials and scoffed at the idea that the integrity of the game would be compromised with replacement officials. The NFL has locked out members of the NFL Referees Association in a contact dispute and has hired replacement officials to call games until there is a new collective bargaining agreement.
Anderson fielded officiating lockout questions August 28, 2012, on WCSR-AM radio in Chicago on the McNeil and Spiegel Show. You can listen to a podcast of the roughly 12-minute interview here (the interview begins 60 seconds into the podcast).
Anderson says the idea that the NFL wants to make all officials full-time league employees is a misnomer. He says the NFL’s proposal is to have seven full-time officials – one for each position (referee, umpire, head linesman, line judge, field judge, side judge, back judge) - and have those seven officials stay on-field and act as a liaison between the league and the officials for smoother communication. Anderson adds, “We’re not asking and not expecting all of them to become full-time and leave their other full-time (off-field) jobs.”
Anderson says it is important for both sides to negotiate in order for a successful agreement. When pressed, Anderson said that the NFL has not contacted the NFLRA about re-starting negotiations. NFLRA attorney, Michael Arnold, recently told Newsday that during the last negotiating session on July 27, NFL negotiators told him that the NFL would not be making any more offers and a settlement it was “going to be on their (the NFL’s) terms.”
Anderson criticized former NFL vice president of officiating and current FOX officiating analyst Mike Pereira. At the start of the lockout, Pereira wrote a column critical of the NFL’s plan to use replacement officials and noted that the dollar amount the NFLRA was asking for was not a drastic sum. Anderson says he won’t comment on Pereira’s numbers, doesn’t know where he got those numbers, and doesn’t know if he would “trust” those numbers. Anderson adds that the NFL is offering an “aggressively fair” compensation package to the NFLRA. When pressed about other comments Pereira has made about the replacement officials and their officiating resumes Anderson responded,
We don’t know and really aren’t interested in responding to what you might have heard from Mike Pereira. That is something, very frankly, that we’re not interested in. Mike is a former employee here, Mike has his own agenda, Mike has his own reasons apparently for saying what he’s saying, so I’m not going to go there.
Anderson dismissed the idea that games officiated by replacement officials would compromise the safety of the players. Anderson says,
We believe our players and our coaches respect the health and safety rules. They are not going to go out there and intentionally play loosey-goose with the rules to put themselves and their peers at greater risk of injury.
Anderson ended the interview saying once again that the NFL wants a deal done with the NFLRA but the NFL is ready for the replacement officials to take the field in Week 1 of the regular season and adding that the NFL is confident in the replacement officials’ abilities.
Kudos to the hosts of The McNeil and Spiegel Show for interviewing Anderson and pressing him for answers regarding the NFLRA lockout.