FLOWERY BRANCH — The labor impasse between the NFL and the referees is over, with both parties issuing a joint statment Wednesday.
The parties announced that they have reached an agreement on an eight-year collective bargaining agreement, subject to ratification by the NFLRA.
“Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement.”
“Our Board of Directors has unanimously approved taking this proposed CBA to the membership for a ratification vote,” said Scott Green, president of the NFLRA. “We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games.”
The replacement officials made some bad calls in the last two Monday Night Football games.
They arguably cost the Green Bay Packers a victory when they rule that Seattle reciever Golden Tate caught a pass that appeared to be intercepted by Green Bay’s M.D. Jennings. The “touchdown” gave the Seahawks a 14-12 victory. In the Falcons game against
Denver, they had three calls on the field overturned and there was a six minute delay on a routine play in the first quarter.
“It’s one less thing that people can harp on during the week,” Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud said. “Once the regular refs get here, it will be great to get that out of the way.”
The bizarre call in the Packers-Seattle game pushed the negotiations along. If the deal is ratified, the regular refs will call this week’s Thursday night game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens.
The Falcons generally remained mum through the impasse. There was some concern about player safety in their locker room.
But even the Falcons were perplexed by the play at the end of the Green Bay-Seattle game.
“It was one of those things where you could see both sides of the argument,” DeCoud said. “From the Packers side you could see that Jennings had 90 percent control of the ball. But on the other side you can see how they kind of thought it was a simultaneous catch. It just depends on whether perception is reality.”
The union was fighting for better salaries, retirement benefits and other transactional issues for part-time officials.
The NFL contended that it offered annual pay increases.
The NFL last used replacement refs during the first week of games in 2001 before a deal was reached.
Fines against two coaches for incidents involving the replacements referees were handed out Wednesday.
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was fined $50,000 for trying to grab an official’s arm Sunday to ask for an explanation.
Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was fined $25,000 for what the league called “abuse of officials.” Two other coaches, Denver’s John Fox and assistant Jack Del Rio, were fined Monday for incidents involving the replacements in Denver’s loss to the Falcons.