Officials walk toward the field before the Ravens-Browns game Thursday. (Patrick Semansky / Associated…)
NFL officials will convene Saturday and vote on an agreement reached with the NFL late Wednesday.
If the deal is approved, the majority of officials will then fly directly to their Sunday games, working in the same crews as last season. To be ratified, the deal needs at least 51% approval of the union's 121 members.
The vote will be taken Saturday because a minimum amount of time is required before any vote can be taken. Because the agreement was last-minute, Saturday was the earliest a vote could be taken. Likewise, the bylaws require that the vote be taken in person.
"It's all history now," head linesman Tom Stabile told the Associated Press, describing the Hail Mary mistake in the Green Bay-Seattle game as the tipping point. "For us, it was a benefit. It may have been the straw that broke the camel's back."
Although it would be a huge surprise if the deal were not approved, it's not everything the officials wanted. The defined-benefit plan will be kept in place for five years, then will be rolled over into a 401(k)-type plan.
The freezing of the defined benefit plan after five years might not be a popular concession with all officials because 96 of them would not reach the 20-year mark at the end of that five-year period. The pension plan caps at 20 years, and therefore 80% of the officials would not realize that pension goal.