NFL Referees Association reaches agreement with NFL regarding opt-out program and health and safety precautions.
NFL referees and replay officials will now able to opt out of the 2020 season. Any official who opts out will receive a stipend of $30K and guaranteed job protection for the 2021 season.
Moreover, if an official contracts the coronavirus during the season, all expenses, including medical, travel and lodging will be taken care of by the league itself.
— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) August 9, 2020
The NFLRA board of directors approved the agreement. It will now have to pass a full vote of membership on Monday before it becomes official. If it is approved, officials will be required to notify the NFL by Thursday, August 13th, if they wish to opt out.
Currently, this is what the agreement looks like:
- Any game or replay official who has concerns related to COVID-19 may voluntarily elect to take a leave of absence from officiating responsibilities for the 2020 season.
- Any game official who take a leave of absence will receive a payment of $30,000.
- Any official who chooses to take a leave of absence is guaranteed job protection and may return for the 2021 season.
- If a game official tests positive during the season, the test and illness will be treated as an injury sustained while performing a League-sanctioned or required activity. The official will be entitled to injury pay, medical expenses and other applicable benefits.
- If an official tests positive or shows signs of illness at a game site, medical expenses, lodging, and travel expenses will be covered by the NFL.
Breaking down the agreement
At first glance, the $30K stipends seems low. It is around 7 times lower than the average salary for an NFL referee which is $200K. However, this might be because most officials have other jobs which can keep them covered if they miss the season.
Unlike the agreement that the NFLPA negotiated, this one will include job protection, meaning the officials have a guaranteed spot in the 2021 should they choose to opt out.
This agreement also stresses on the medical well being of the officials who do not opt out. Most likely, the reason for this is the age of the refs. The average age of an NFL official is 52 which, of course, means their safety should be taken seriously.
“There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our members,” said NFLRA Executive Director Scott Green. “Although there will undoubtedly be some risk for our officials, we are pleased to have finalized a plan with the League that provides additional benefits and protections during this unprecedented season.”