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.

Mayor Schaaf on Raiders relocation: 'Oakland has something no other city ever will'

Mayor Schaaf on Raiders relocation: 'Oakland has something no other city ever will'

The Oakland Raiders have officially filed for relocation to Las Vegas. And Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has responded. 

“It’s no surprise that the Raiders have filed for relocation," Schaaf said in a statement. "Oakland welcomes the chance to show them and the NFL’s other owners why Oakland is the only home for the Raiders and always will be.

“Our winning team of the Lott Group, the County and my colleagues on the Oakland City Council has accomplished so much in the last few months. We’ve identified the mechanisms to responsibly finance public infrastructure improvements, we have in the Lott Group a private partner prepared to finance stadium construction, and we have an entitled site for a world-class NFL stadium and new development that enhances fan experience while invigorating East Oakland's economy. 

“But this isn’t all Oakland has to offer. Oakland’s Raiders stadium will be on the most transit-accessible site in the nation, in the sixth largest television market, and in one of the wealthiest and most innovative regions in the world. But above all else, Oakland has something no other city ever will -- a die-hard fan base that is loyal and true to the Raiders and wants to see them stay here in Oakland where they were founded. Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty.

“I look forward to the League giving our team a chance to compete.”

Now that the fate of the Raiders' relocation is in the hands of the NFL owners, a vote could come at the NFL owners meetings in late March. It’s uncertain whether Davis has the votes needed to relocate, but there has been momentum building for such a move over the past several months.

Davis has said that, even if the Raiders are approved for relocation, he plans on playing in Oakland the next few years while a Las Vegas stadium is built. The team has already sent out season ticket pricing to fans for the 2017 season. The Raiders have one-year team options to play Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

The Las Vegas stadium isn’t expected to be ready until the 2020 season.

The Office of the Mayor Libby Schaaf and Scott Bair contributed to this report.

 

McKenzie still not over Raiders playoff loss, striving 'to hold up the trophy'

McKenzie still not over Raiders playoff loss, striving 'to hold up the trophy'

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie acknowledged being named the NFL’s executive of the year was a big deal. It’s the highest individual honor bestowed on a personnel man.

Not in McKenzie’s eyes. His name’s on the plaque, but the general manger considers it a team honor. It takes a village to raise a roster, something McKenzie knows after working through the ranks.

“The acknowledgement, to me, is for the organization, from the top down,” McKenzie said. “From the patience and the vision together with me and (owner Mark Davis) on through the work, the daily work of the coaches and players and to play on Sunday. That’s what the acknowledgement is really all about.

“You see the entire organization working together to win. That’s what I see. It’s an accomplishment from the standpoint that we’re winning now. That’s what I feel good about. That’s why this award is special. It’s a team award, but it’s special to me that this thing is resulting into wins.”

The Raiders went 12-4 in 2016 and returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season. That postseason experience was not positive. The Raiders got waxed in Houston, completing a brutal two-loss stretch where an AFC West title was lost and the season formally ended.

The downward spiral started in Week 16, after quarterback Derek Carr broke his fibula. Backup Matt McGloin played poorly and then hurt his shoulder the next game, which forced the Raiders to start rookie Connor Cook against Houston.

A loss seemed likely – Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn was also sidelined – but that didn’t make it easier for McKenzie to handle.

“Well, I’m still getting over it, (likely) until I win my next game,” McKenzie said. “It’s tough anytime you lose your last game. It’s going to eat at you and that’s one thing about being a player, being associated in this, it’s the drive for the next game. What can I do to help us win that next game? And that’s the hope we have now, is the opportunity to play again, you know? Albeit, in ’17, but that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to set the course for this ’17 season. So, it’s going to eat at you until then.”

It’s that drive that pushed McKenzie during difficult times, when talent piled up but didn’t translate to wins. Seeing the fruits of that labor is incredibly gratifying for McKenzie and staff. This award is part of that – to the victor go the spoils – though the end goal remains out of reach and will until the Raiders win a Super Bowl.

“Nobody likes losing, so I get that. If you really believe in what you’re doing and you’re supported, the hope is to start to win games, and to get to the playoffs is a step,” McKenzie said. “We feel good about that, but we’re only scratching the surface. We still want to hold up the trophy. That’s what we’re going to continue to strive to do. That’s our next step. We need to win playoff games.”