It seems as though the trouble started after their contract expired at the end of the 2011 season. The main issue is, not surprisingly, money. The officials claim the raise the NFL offered them is lower than the one they received in 2006, which they see as an issue since the NFL has been experiencing record profits. The league’s spokesman, Greg Aiello argued that most people haven’t gotten the same raises they received in 2006.
As contract talks stalled, the NFL began looking to hire new officials with backgrounds similar to the current referees, according to the league’s website.
Related: NFL Debuts First Female Ref
However, the NFL Referees Association claims that the league took this action before the talks had reached an impasse, a move, in their mind, that indicated the NFL had no intention to reach a fair deal.
The replacement referees officiated the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on August 5. The game got off on a bad start, as they had to issue a correction on the opening coin toss.
Player lockouts and contract negotiations are commonplace, so it should be interesting to see how this plays out for the referees. It has already lodged itself in history, as the strike opened the door for Shannon Eastin to become the league’s first female referee.
The NFLRA has stated that the referees will continue to train for the 2012 season, which kicks off with the Cowboys facing the Giants on September 5. They have been locked out since June 3.