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NFL Releases Statements On Referee Negotiations, Burbank Arbitration Ruling

You may have heard that the NFL and the NFL Referees Association have been negotiating about a new CBA. However, much like the NFL lockout between the league and the NFLPA, these negotiations aren’t getting very far. Today, the league office released a statement regarding these negotiations.

“Negotiations with the NFL Referees Association on a new collective bargaining agreement remain unresolved and the previous CBA has expired. Therefore, in order to ensure that there is no disruption to NFL games this season we will proceed immediately with the hiring and training of replacement officials. Our goal is to maintain the highest quality of officiating for our teams, players, and fans, including proper enforcement of the playing rules and efficient management of our games. Another negotiating session took place Sunday under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. We appreciate the efforts of the FMCS and will continue to be available to the NFLRA and the FMCS to negotiate a fair resolution. We have great respect for our officials and in keeping with that view have made a proposal that includes substantial increases in compensation for all game officials.”

As per the official statement, it looks like the NFL is ready to begin hiring new officials. Now, these negotiations can be brutal, and the NFL Referees Association should call the NFL’s bluff. It’s rather unlikely that the league would allow a bunch of Arena League officials and Pac-12 officials to jump in and officiate actual NFL games. But the NFL is doing the right thing by attempting to assure that no NFL games will be disrupted. If that happens to be the case, the league would lose credibility and many fans would become frustrated.

The NFL also released a statement today regarding the ruling of arbitrator Stephen Burbank in the New Orleans Saints bounty case. In short, Burbank upheld all the suspensions handed down.

“System Arbitrator Stephen Burbank upheld the commissioner’s authority under the Collective Bargaining Agreement to impose “conduct detrimental” discipline on players who provided or offered to provide financial incentives to injure opponents. He also upheld the commissioner’s authority to impose such discipline against players who obstructed a league investigation. The System Arbitrator thus confirmed the commissioner’s authority to suspend Mr. Fujita, Mr. Smith and Mr. Vilma. He invited the commissioner to clarify the precise basis for his discipline of Mr. Hargrove who, among other things, was found to have lied to the league’s investigators and obstructed their investigation.”

Essentially, this means that the commissioner was right in suspending multiple players for their role in the bounty scandal, and that he is able to impose punishments, as he has, on all who were involved. This was, of course, expected given that the commissioner was the one who handed out these suspensions.

It was a busy day at the league office, but the league did assure that no NFL games will be missed because of ongoing negotiations between the NFL and the referees.

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