Locked-out NFL officials looking for a solution

NFL officials

Credit: Getty Images

Referees huddle in conference during the NFL preseason game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs on August 24. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)



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Posted on September 12, 2012 at 10:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 12 at 10:28 PM

WYLIE — Tim Millis is the executive director of the NFL Referees Association. Since last October, he has been directly involved with the negotiations with the league trying to get a new contract.

So far, no luck.

"This may not be a good time," Millis said. "They got into the same situation with the players last year."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the biggest issue is the pension. The league would like to switch to a defined contributions program like a 401K.

"I don't want to get into that, but a lot of the businesses that are changing the form of a pension are businesses that are in financial trouble. I don't think the NFL is," Millis said. "Pensions and salaries, that's what we're negotiating."

Millis said officials can make anywhere from $70,000 to $160,000 a year plus that pension. It varies because it includes preseason games, weekly game fees, training camps, clinics, preparation time and playoff games.

He said the perception is being an NFL official is a part-time job. "It's not," Millis said, "because compared to other sports, it’s nowhere near those that work more games than we do and also, it’s not a part-time job. It’s a full-time seasonal job."

During his officiating days, Millis worked three Conference Championship games and two Super Bowls. He remembers how long the hours were.

"I know during the season when you consider travel time, I probably spent 50 hours a week on the NFL, so you say, 'How did you have another job?" Millis asked. "That's what I was telling you:  I worked 80 to 90 hours a week."

The NFL is known for its record-setting revenues, but those revenues are having little impact on negotiations between the league and the union representing the officials. Millis said he hopes to return to the bargaining table next week.

E-mail griba@wfaa.com