Source: NFL and referees agree to new contract

Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) -- The NFL and its officials agreed to a new contract Monday, all but ending the lockout and the need for replacements, a league source told The Associated Press.

The deal, which must be ratified by the 119 officials, is for the same amount of money the league had offered on Sept. 4, although some details are different.

It calls for a 50 percent raise this season and 100 percent by the fourth year of a six-year contract, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The officials were to vote on the deal by e-mail, a process expected to be finished by Wednesday morning. The deadline is noon EDT, Wednesday.

Tom Condon, chief negotiator for the union, had no immediate comment.

The deal was worked out with Bill Carollo, the executive director of the NFL Referees Association, and Jeff Bergman, two of the four members of the negotiating committee, the source said.

One official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Jeff Pash, the league's lead negotiator, had been talking with Carollo and Bergman.

In past NFL labor disputes, Rooney has been called in to close deals when an agreement was imminent.

NFL spokesman Joe Browne said the league had no comment.

''We will not say anything until we have agreed to a deal,'' he said.

Sources on both sides said the agreement was speeded up in the wake of the terrorist attacks, which cast a whole new perspective on sports events in general. They said both sides agreed the horror and destruction trivialized the dispute.

The replacement officials, who are guaranteed four weeks' salary at $2,000 a week, worked the final week of the preseason and the first games of the regular season.

When talks broke off nearly two weeks ago, the NFL had cut back its offer to a 20 percent increase in the first year, the offer it had on the table last June 12. Its last offer to the officials before the lockout was a 60 percent increase the first year, with a doubling of officials' salaries in two years.

The NFL source said this deal has the same total value as that one.

Under the previous agreement, signed in 1994, a fifth-year official made $42,295 last year. An official entering his 10th season made $64,215 last year.



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