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BOTH sides responsible for referee labor strife

I think everyone agrees the replacement officials the NFL is using while it negotiates (or sometimes doesn't negotiate) with the Nationall Football League Referees Union are not doing a very good job. Everyone talks about how the integrity of the game is being compromised.


And on that point 560-WQAM afternoon host and friend Jorge Sedano and I also agreed Tuesday during a segment of his show.

But that's where the agreement kind of ended.

You see, I'm of the opinion that in a negotiation it is up to both sides to concede points. It is up to both parties to give and move toward the other. That's why it's called a negotiation. And since I truly have no dog in this hunt, I think both the NFL and the NFLRA are responsible for hurting the integrity of the game by not reaching a deal.

Other media I hear discuss the topic always attack the issue from a standpoint of the NFL has a lot of money. Roger Goodell is Satan. And the league's owners should basically give the officials whatever they want or need to make them happy and end the labor strife.

ESPN's Rick Reilly makes exactly that case following Monday night's disaster in Seattle in which what was surely a Green Bay victory got turned upside down and ended with a victory for Seattle. Reilly opines that the result should move the NFL commissioner to do whatever he has to do to solve the impasse. It is the typical "the union is always right and the businessmen are actually the boogeymen" view from today's media.

Never do I hear that both sides -- I said BOTH sides -- are responsible for solving this and the officials are being as intransigent as the NFL.

Look, I think unions are good to a point. But I also believe in free enterprise. I believe free men have a right to conduct their business as they seem fit as long as they follow the law and appropriate regulations. And so I do not believe in telling the NFL owners they must cave because I don't believe in telling people what to do with their money.

I notice neither Reilly nor the players telling the NFL to settle are volunteering to chip in any of their personal funds to help settle the issue. 

Sedano didn't really disagree with me on this point, but he didn't exactly second my opinion. He and Reilly are probably hiding in the bushes outside my house to jump me when I come out this morning.

He made the point that officials should be full-time. Well, the union doesn't want to do this because that means most officials would have to give up their regular jobs and most don't want to do that.

I also made the point to him that full-time umpires in baseball get it wrong all the time -- ask Armando Galarraga who had a perfect game stolen from him or the St. Louis Cardinals who had the World Series stolen from them if full-time umpires are any better than the guys that called the touchdownception Monday night.

Sedano believes the NFL should pay the officials more. Well, the NFL has offered the officials a 2.5 percent pay increase. Not enough, the NFLRA says. Tell me, when was the last time any of you turned down a pay increase? Also, when was the last time any of you made an average of $150,000 --what the officials currently make on average -- in your part-time job?

There is also disagreement over pensions. The NFLRA wants its part-time employees to get full pensions. The NFL wants to offer a 401K type plan instead and says many of its full-time employees get this type of plan so why would part-timers get the full scholarship?

It is a very emotional topic. It is affecting the integrity of the game. But both sides -- repeating, both  sides -- have to work toward a solution.

Here's the weekly segment between Jorge Sedano and me. We also disagreed on Ryan Tannehill's game Sunday, by the way. I love that guy. Listen to his radio show every weekday 3-7 p.m.

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