But the league also conceded the officials missed an offensive pass interference penalty on Tate that would have ended the game with the Packers winning.
Tuesday’s bargaining session was scheduled prior to Monday night’s controversy and some people close to the talks said the national furor over the call would have little or no effect on the league’s stance in the negotiations. A person with knowledge of the negotiations said Tuesday night that the owners were firmly against making any further compromises in the talks. Still, the deal was struck only about 48 hours after the final play of the Seahawks-Packers game.
The deal runs through the 2019 season and gives significant raises to the officials, who are part-time employees. The average NFL official earned $149,000 last year. Under the new deal, that is to increase to an average of $173,000 in 2013 and $205,000 in 2019.
The two sides had been particularly at odds over pensions, which seemed to emerge as the major sticking point late in the negotiations. Referees wanted to retain their pension plan, which the league apparently considered too generous, particularly for part-time employees. The NFL wanted to switch the officials to 401(k) retirement plans.
The compromise that was struck, according to an announcement by the league about the terms of the deal, would keep the pension plan in place for current officials for five years through the 2016 season, at which point it will be frozen. Newly hired officials will be given 401(k) retirement plans, as will all officials beginning in 2017.
The league also sought during the negotiations to make some officials full-time employees and to increase the overall number of officials to enhance its ability to replace those officials that it considers to be underperforming.
The deal, according to the NFL’s announcement, allows the league to make some officials full-time employees beginning in 2013. It also allows the league to hire additional officials for training and development, and gives the NFL the ability to assign those officials to work games. The league’s announcement said it could determine the number of newly hired officials. There currently are 121 officials.
“The long-term future of our game requires that we seek improvement in every area, including officiating,” Goodell said in a written statement. “This agreement supports long-term reforms that will make officiating better. The teams, players and fans want and deserve both consistency and quality in officiating.”