In quite a sudden and stunning turn of events, the NFL and the NFLRA (referees' association) have come to a settlement over their labor dispute that has brewed since June. After a no-brainer ratification vote amongst their members, the regular refs will be back this weekend. Here, in a nutshell, are the details of the settlement----
Each official will immediately receive a $5 million dollar signing bonus. Their salaries will be tripled with an automatic 10% raise every year. Complete and totally free health care will be provided for them and their families. After only two years of service, they will qualify for lifetime tax-free pensions that will start at $200,000 annually and have the same !0% cost of living factor built in.
Sounds like a pretty sweet deal for the zebras, right? Not so fast. In return, the league got something they've always craved as well.
In a complicated 3-way conference, the highest levels of law enforcement had to sign off on what the league demanded in return for their generosity towards the refs.
Though the fine print has yet to be ironed out, it appears the league will henceforth have a special agent on the sidelines during every future game. This agent will be armed, and be in continual contact with the league offices.
Most everybody expects the quality of the officiating to greatly improve once the seasoned refs are back on the job. Yet, mistakes will still be made. They're human, after all. However, under the terms of the new agreement, the refs will now be "subject to review".
But this is where it gets interesting. While an occasional minor gaffe will still be tolerated, egregious bone-headed calls will not. If after all the replays, from all the different angles, including slo-mo, it is proven beyond all reasonable doubt an official should no longer be allowed to continue his/her incompetence -- they won't. At that time, with the official sanction of the league office, coupled with the immunity granted by the aforementioned government agencies, such an offender will be promptly marched out to the 50 yard line by the league agent -- and summarily executed. The stadium public address announcer will say one word -- NEXT. Did I forget to mention another clause of the new agreement stipulates the NFL is going to recruit and train new refs at a very accelerated rate? Makes sense, given the turnover rate is likely to ramp up. There's attrition, and then there's ATTRITION. Talk about quality control. Wow.
Here's welcoming back the real refs and I certainly hope they get it right. Perhaps being the seasoned veterans they are, they'll be able to ignore that guy wandering the sidelines wearing the trench coat and shades while speaking into his lapel.
And then I woke up. Not sure about that being hungry again an hour later thing, but sometimes Chinese food gives me some very strange dreams.