D/FW AIRPORT – The NFLRA (NFL Referees Association) will meet Friday night and Saturday morning at the DFW Marriott Hotel to review and then ratify its new contract with the NFL.
Later Saturday morning, the referees will spend about two hours talking about new rules and other points of emphasis. After lunch at noon, they'll fly to the 15 different cities that are hosting NFL games Sunday and Monday.
I met with a group of four officials before noon. Three had just flown in from Pittsburgh and another from Chattanooga. The one from Chattanooga sells designer floors and was meeting a client in Dallas before tonight's meeting.
Another one, Jeff Bergman, I interviewed for our midday show. He said that the Hail Mary pass on Monday night –– which resulted in a controversial Seattle win –– was a prayer answered for the referees and for fans because it brought a quicker end to the lockout.
Ed Hochuli, a so-called "celebrity" referee who is known for his muscular arms, also arrived before noon. I asked him about all the credit he has received in the media for keeping the referees sharp. Hochuli has been emailing weekly quizzes to his fellow referees.
"It was overblown," Hochuli said. "But what was not overblown (is) how proud I am of 121 guys. We did several hours; there were five to six hour rules test every week for 18 weeks."
As a side note, the 121 members of the NFLRA is now actually 119. I was told that two referees retired yesterday. They had planned to retire after last season but waited until the new collective bargaining agreement was done so they would get those benefits.