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NFL, officials reach a tentative labor agreement

It looks like there will be labor peace between the NFL and its game officials.



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No replacements. No Fail Mary. No angst. According to Pro Football Talk NFL and the NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) have reportedly reached a tentative labor argeement, or “agreement in principle” that will guarantee that the regular officials will continue to call the games.

We don’t yet know the details or length of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

The deal isn’t final until the NFLRA membership votes to ratify the agreement. That vote is expected to happen next week.

It will be interesting to see if there will be any new contract language about year-round (full-time) officials. The NFL experimented with full-time officials between 2012 and 2018 as an interim agreemente between CBAs. There are no full-time officials this year. We’ll see if the full-timers make a return under the new CBA.

The officials were in the last year of their eight-year contract. The 2012 deal was hammered out after a league-imposed lockout that became toxic quickly and, in short, ended in disaster for the NFL. It was a rare moment that fans appreciated the NFL regulars.

The officials and the league hammered out a collective bargaining agreement without a work stoppage in 2005.

But, the NFLRA went on strike in 2001. The NFL again hired replacement officials to handle the preseason and Week 1 of the 2001 regular season. The 9/11 terrorist attacks caused both sides to take stock in life and priorities, and the NFL and the officials quickly agreed to a new contract.

Thankfully, there will be no work action by either side this time around.

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?"