Wednesday, the NFL and the NFLRA met once again to try to negotiate terms to the end the lockout that is keeping the regular NFL referees off of the field this season. The meetings between the two sides, have become more regular and more serious since the debacle that plagued the NFL on Monday Night Football when the replacement referees made a controversial, game deciding call that has been talked about around the world for the past three days. The meeting Wednesday lasted well into the night. ESPN reported that they did not end talks until after 11:00 pm EST.
This meeting was different, though. It is now being reported that the Union and the NFL have come to an agreement to end the lockout and are working on the paperwork now to cement the deal. Per the agreement, the league and referees agreed to create a developmental program as a compromise to the NFL’s demand for the addition of 121 NFLRA members. The pool of the money for the existing officials will remain the same, though. The developmental officials will be mentored by the existing officials and will not be NFLRA members. They will not work games and will not be eligible to be subbed in until they improve and reach the standards to be an NFL official. At that point, they will be eligible to be considered for NFLRA membership. When that occurs, the pool for officials will be adjusted accordingly.
Other terms of the deal are unknown at this time. However, a prominent NFLRA member did say that the regular officials would be ready to go in a days notice. According to reports, this is their days notice and the regular referees will be available for Thursday night’s game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens. This is welcome news to not only the officials, but the players, and owners and fans.