Facebook Twitter

NFL withdraws offer to officials

Substitutes on field, pressure off, league says

SHARE NFL withdraws offer to officials

NEW YORK — The NFL has withdrawn its latest offer to the locked-out officials and reverted to its original offer of June 12.

The NFL alerted Tom Condon, the chief negotiator for the officials, in a letter sent Friday night that the offer of a 60 percent raise in the first year, 85 percent in the second, 100 percent in the third and 150 percent in the fifth was withdrawn.

Instead, the offer now stands at a 20 percent raise in the first year, leading to a 75 percent increase in Year 5.

"We made an extraordinary offer to avoid a work stoppage, and now that offer was rejected, and we have the alternate officials on the field, there no longer is any basis for keeping that offer on the table," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Saturday.

The league had warned the officials' union that such a move would happen after the NFL twice upgraded its Aug. 13 offer.

Telephone calls to Condon were not immediately returned.

The NFL rejected an offer Friday by the regular officials to work this season with a no-strike guarantee if their salary dispute was submitted to binding arbitration after the Super Bowl. So replacements will handle the officiating chores as the league opens Sunday.

Will they be up to the task after working just one preseason game?

"I don't think the NFL would do anything to endanger us," Giants guard Glenn Parker said. "So I think they will be good guys. They will be out there doing their best.

"I don't think the rule book will be a problem. I think the speed of the game will be the problem for these guys. Ask any player who went back to his first college game after being in the pros and he'll say he couldn't believe how slow it was. It's going to be a big step up in the speed department."

The officials' union released a list on Friday containing what it said were the replacement officials, listing their backgrounds. The NFL did not comment, and there was no way to verify the backgrounds on the list.

Replacement officials are being paid $2,000 per game and are guaranteed four weeks.

"Everybody was pretty nice to them during that last preseason game," Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown said. "But now, it's a situation where every play could mean home-field advantage, almost. Now every game is very important.

"You just hope that it doesn't come down to one of those guys making the wrong play. I don't care if the game is 4 1/2 hours long, if they have to stop after every play to talk about it to make sure they get it right."

The union is counting on the replacements not getting much right. Then, the officials reason, the league will be forced to make a new offer.