After Brad’s rant (and the 70,000 calls to the NFL offices Tuesday morning), it seems the NFL finally gave in to the NFLRA and decided to come to terms with the fact that the way the referees call their games is a big portion of why they are so popular. As John Clayton of ESPN said “the $3 million that is separating the league and the NFLRA may not seem like such a big deal in a $9.3 billion industry”, which it’s not. I guess when it started to scare their advertisers, the NFL finally realized what they had to do in order to keep fans watching, buying tickets, and supporting their sponsors.
A referee first confirmed that a deal had been reached, and the league has confirmed this fact, according to NFL.com. While the announcement of a deal has been made, the specifics have not yet been announced as paperwork is still being completed in order for it to be signed. Referees say they would have liked to work a few preseason games to get back in the groove, but a spokesman says it’s not necessary for them to get back to work tomorrow night in Baltimore.
One major point in the lockout was the addition of 21 officials for the NFLRA, and apparently the league has agreed to this term. The developmental officials will be mentored by existing crews, and will work with them during the week. They will not yet be NFLRA members, and won’t work games, but eventually they will do both, and will be allowed to be subbed into games as they learn.
It’s upsetting that it took such a glaring error for the NFL to realize this was the right decision, and big picture-wise, the terms were very reasonable, so it’s sad to think what could have gone on all season if that call wasn’t horribly blown on Monday night. The fact remains that the game will stay a Seahawks win, despite the obvious, but at least the NFL finally realizes how much value the NFLRA provides to their business. We have the referees back, so now it’s a wonder what fans will complain about every Sunday. My guess is the referees will be welcomed with open arms by fans, until they blunder a call that hurts their team, and they’ll all go back to complaining about the referees, but for the time being, people can’t blame the fact that they are replacement referees, which is a relief, because it was getting old after only three weeks.