Raiders

Referee pensions major sticking point

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Referee pensions major sticking point

The ongoing labor rift between the NFL and game officials enters week two with no resolution on the horizon.

That said, there is no professional sport in which game officials are more critical to the health and well being of the players than the NFL.
As long as news on the concussion front stays highly visible, the focus on the NFL and its replacement officials will be under a microscope every week until its resolved.In many of todays labor disputes its not just the money represented by salaries but the funding of pensions. NFL officials, who are the only part time officials in the Big Four sports leagues, have the lowest average salaries at 149,000 per season. Funding of pensions for veteran officials is a major sticking point in these negotiations.One of the significant differences between this labor battle and the last one in 2001 (which lasted until the 3rd regular season game), is the pool of replacement officials the NFL has to choose from.
Back then, the replacement refs were BCS caliber college officials. This summer, no Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) official can be found among the 136 replacements signed, instructed and sent out to referee games by the NFL.
Instead, in 2012, the league brought in replacements from high school, college division ll and lll, and referee retirees.The NFL is offering salary increases of 5 to 11 over a seven-year term for each official. The NFLRA (National Football League Referees Association) sets its own pay scale but relies on the league to provide a larger amount of money to divide. Last season the contribution was11.93 million. The NFLRA wants an increase of 2.2 million for the upcoming season and a total of 16.5 over the next five seasons.
This request seems like mouse meat when compared to annual NFL revenues.The NFL proposes hiring three additional crews (21 new officials) and introducing fulltime referees. There is a major gap not over the idea of additional officials or making them full time, rather over money and retroactive pensions for veteran officials.The NFL rule book is 244 pages long with a casebook adding an additional 113. No matter how well the replacements are being educated it will be a tough course to ace if the dispute drags on.
That said, the overall opinion voiced from all sides is that the replacement officials held their own in week one.So far the most positive result of the ongoing labor dispute is that the NFL saw Shannon Eastin, of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, become the first female official. She worked in the preseason and was on the field as a line judge for the opening week, Rams-Lions game.The NFL has negotiated nearly 28 billion in network broadcast rights fees from 2014 through 2022. Its annual business is thought be approaching 9 billion dollars and growing in every measurable way possible. The total pay package for the officials is a microscopic piece of the total NFL budget and it is hard to understand why this has gone on so long.A quick guide to some of the Official" differences in pro sports.Number of officials in each league:
NBA--45
MLB--95
NHL--75 (33 linesmen, 42 refs)
NFL--119Average salaries:
NBA--100k-300k
MLB--120k-300k
NHL--115k-225k
NFL--149k (they are part-timers)When labor agreements expire between leagues and officials:
NBA--2016 (agreed to 5-year contract last year)
MLB--through the end of 2014 season.
NHL--through 2013-2014 season.
NFL--dispute continues into week two of NFL season.Mike Pereira, former Vice President of Officiating for the NFL and Foxs officiating guru, can be heard throughout the season on KNBR with Gary Radnich and Larry Kruger on Monday mornings.
Pereira, who is the rules analyst for college and NFL TV coverage, isnt just another talking head. He is not afraid to speak his mind and with the labor pains continuing, his comments about the NFL officiating replacements should make for some enthusiastic red-flag throwing as we watch this season unfold.Over his 40-year career, sports executive Andy Dolich has held positions at the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers. He is the Sports Business Insider for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Edwards Jr. emerges from Arizona unfazed, with hip injury behind him

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Edwards Jr. emerges from Arizona unfazed, with hip injury behind him

NAPA -- Mario Edwards Jr.’s second season went south in a hurry. The Raiders defensive lineman suffered a hip injury in the 2016 preseason opener that kept him out 14 games and prevented progress after a solid rookie year.

He walked into University of Phoenix Stadium so full of hope, so ready to become a impact player on the inside. He left on crutches, with disappointment etched on his face. Edwards Jr. played thrice in 2016, but never made a real impact.

He’s expected to make one in Year 3. Edwards Jr. is back to full health, without restrictions of any kind. He’s been that way a while now, completely recovered from a hip injury that took forever to heal. He passed standard injury milestones required to overcome a major injury. He regained great shape. He tested the joint several times, and was confident it would provide explosiveness and withstand jarring hits.

One last mental hurdle was cleared Saturday night, when he returned to the crime scene. The Raiders opened this preseason against Arizona, at University of Phoenix Stadium, on the anniversary of his injury.

Flashbacks were unavoidable.

“I definitely thought about it,” he said.

It didn’t consume him. Edwards was played 22 productive snaps and emerged no worse for the wear. That, above all else, was the important thing.

“Going back to where it happened and completing the game, that was important,” Edwards said. “I thank God that I walked off the field the same way I came on it. That boosted my confidence and showed it can hold up. I was happy with that, and happy to have come out of everything just fine.”

Edwards has dealt with significant injuries throughout his career. He had a neck issue late in his rookie year, and a hip problem that stole his 2017 campaign. Edwards is thrilled to say those issues are behind him now.

“I’ve pushed that under the rug,” he said. ”I’m completely done with it. Now I’m focused on moving forward and playing faster.”

There’s no doubt the Raiders are better with Edwards on the line. General manager Reggie McKenzie said so this offseason. Edwards is a versatile, powerful, athletic player capable of playing most every technique from inside out. He played everywhere as a rookie, from stand-up edge rusher to nose tackle.

He’ll be a roving chess piece again this year, Edwards should play end in the base defense, often with Bruce Irvin on his flank. He’ll slide inside to provide a pass rush in a sub packages. Good push from Edwards, Denico Autry, Jihad Ward and Eddie Vanderdoes is vital, especially after struggling to create pressure there in years past. Head coach Jack Del Rio said last season’s effort wasn’t good enough. His players heard that, and are hell-bent on showing better.

“We take what people said about last year’s interior push as a challenge,” Edwards said. “We know we’ll be better, and we’re out to prove that the Raiders interior defensive is pretty good.”

Practice report: Conley locking in mentally while rehabbing injury

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AP

Practice report: Conley locking in mentally while rehabbing injury

NAPA – Gareon Conley ran Sunday for the first time in two months. The Raiders first-round cornerback remains on the physically unable to perform list with a shin injury originally suffered during a June minicamp. He wants to get back on the field. He just isn’t ready yet.

Missing training camp certainly sets back a dynamic cover man, but it doesn’t mean Conley can’t make an instant impact. While he hasn’t been seen on the practice field, the Raiders have been encouraged that Conley’s proving a quick learner and an inquisitive mind.

“We’d love to have him out there right now,” Raiders assistant head coach – defense John Pagano said. “When he’s out there, he’ll be out there. Until then, I think he got the reps he needed in OTAs. His mental game has picked up tremendously. He’s always asking questions, even more. It’s hard for a lot of injured players in this league to stand there on the sidelines and be able to just watch and look out there, but he’s always asking. He’s getting those mental reps.

"When he’s able to come back, he’ll be at a fast level. Injuries are part of the game, you deal with it and you just have to make sure, as a rookie, you’re taking those mental reps.”

Conley has been on the practice field with his position group most days, with a play sheet in hand to follow along. He has also lifted weights the past two days and worked on the JUGS machine Wednesday.

Nearly a month remains until the regular season starts, leaving Conley time to get back in the mix.

QUICK SLANTS

-- Cornerback Sean Smith took some reps with the first unit on Wednesday, though most of them came as an outside corner in the nickel package. TJ Carrie slid inside in those instances, and generally remained outside in the base defense.

Smith had his second straight quality practice, a sign he might be rebounding after a rough week where he practiced with the second unit and didn’t fare well at Arizona. The Raiders hope he can build on good work and be steadier in coverage.

“I think he’s growing every day,” Pagano said. “There’s always highs and lows in this game. You don’t want to make it, as we term, inconsistent. We’re always looking for the consistency. It’s how you build. It’s how you learn. It’s how you come off those things. There’s always room for improvement in the backend, in the front, all across our defense. There’s guys we’re asking them to go out there and make plays. Has he been improving at practice? Yeah. Then our job is to take that practice stuff and take it to the game field and have that consistency and that carry over to those types of games.”

-- Offensive line coach Mike Tice praised Ian Silberman’s play in a position switch to center. He has seen extensive reps there in camp, including a massive amount in the preseason opener at Arizona. Silberman will play some left guard in coming weeks to establish versatility and give him a shot to make the team.

-- Undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow played with the first unit in sub packages, as the Raiders continue searching for coverage options in those personnel groups.

-- Jon Feliciano worked with the first unit on Wednesday at left guard. He will be a primary backup at every interior line spot. He is working back from a knee injury that kept him out until last week.