Raiders

Referee pensions major sticking point

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Referee pensions major sticking point

The ongoing labor rift between the NFL and game officials enters week two with no resolution on the horizon.

That said, there is no professional sport in which game officials are more critical to the health and well being of the players than the NFL.
As long as news on the concussion front stays highly visible, the focus on the NFL and its replacement officials will be under a microscope every week until its resolved.In many of todays labor disputes its not just the money represented by salaries but the funding of pensions. NFL officials, who are the only part time officials in the Big Four sports leagues, have the lowest average salaries at 149,000 per season. Funding of pensions for veteran officials is a major sticking point in these negotiations.One of the significant differences between this labor battle and the last one in 2001 (which lasted until the 3rd regular season game), is the pool of replacement officials the NFL has to choose from.
Back then, the replacement refs were BCS caliber college officials. This summer, no Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) official can be found among the 136 replacements signed, instructed and sent out to referee games by the NFL.
Instead, in 2012, the league brought in replacements from high school, college division ll and lll, and referee retirees.The NFL is offering salary increases of 5 to 11 over a seven-year term for each official. The NFLRA (National Football League Referees Association) sets its own pay scale but relies on the league to provide a larger amount of money to divide. Last season the contribution was11.93 million. The NFLRA wants an increase of 2.2 million for the upcoming season and a total of 16.5 over the next five seasons.
This request seems like mouse meat when compared to annual NFL revenues.The NFL proposes hiring three additional crews (21 new officials) and introducing fulltime referees. There is a major gap not over the idea of additional officials or making them full time, rather over money and retroactive pensions for veteran officials.The NFL rule book is 244 pages long with a casebook adding an additional 113. No matter how well the replacements are being educated it will be a tough course to ace if the dispute drags on.
That said, the overall opinion voiced from all sides is that the replacement officials held their own in week one.So far the most positive result of the ongoing labor dispute is that the NFL saw Shannon Eastin, of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, become the first female official. She worked in the preseason and was on the field as a line judge for the opening week, Rams-Lions game.The NFL has negotiated nearly 28 billion in network broadcast rights fees from 2014 through 2022. Its annual business is thought be approaching 9 billion dollars and growing in every measurable way possible. The total pay package for the officials is a microscopic piece of the total NFL budget and it is hard to understand why this has gone on so long.A quick guide to some of the Official" differences in pro sports.Number of officials in each league:
NBA--45
MLB--95
NHL--75 (33 linesmen, 42 refs)
NFL--119Average salaries:
NBA--100k-300k
MLB--120k-300k
NHL--115k-225k
NFL--149k (they are part-timers)When labor agreements expire between leagues and officials:
NBA--2016 (agreed to 5-year contract last year)
MLB--through the end of 2014 season.
NHL--through 2013-2014 season.
NFL--dispute continues into week two of NFL season.Mike Pereira, former Vice President of Officiating for the NFL and Foxs officiating guru, can be heard throughout the season on KNBR with Gary Radnich and Larry Kruger on Monday mornings.
Pereira, who is the rules analyst for college and NFL TV coverage, isnt just another talking head. He is not afraid to speak his mind and with the labor pains continuing, his comments about the NFL officiating replacements should make for some enthusiastic red-flag throwing as we watch this season unfold.Over his 40-year career, sports executive Andy Dolich has held positions at the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers. He is the Sports Business Insider for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

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USATSI

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

ALAMEDA – John Pagano can’t implement his scheme in a week. He can’t import his plays and preferences cultivated during five seasons as Chargers defensive coordinator. Full offseason programs and training camps are required for that.

Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was fired on Tuesday. Pagano will call his first Raiders game five days later against Denver at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders’ assistant head coach – defense believes he can impact how the Silver and Black does business.

“There’s always room for change and there’s always room for doing things better,” Pagano said Thursday. “Without telling you our game plan, it’s about how we go out and execute the call, bottom line.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio said the Raiders weren’t playing fast enough. They weren’t creating enough turnovers, weren’t doing well enough on third down and weren’t regularly affecting the quarterback due to a lack of both rush and coverage.

That’s why Norton had to go.

Pagano’s first objective, which must get accomplished in a few days, is getting the Raiders to play with confidence. Then he can add some design wrinkles with some of his personality.

“You have to have that ability of going out there, knowing your assignment and playing faster,” Pagano said. “It’s not to say that there have been times where we’ve simplified things, but taking the thinking out of the game and making them react is, I think, most important. Going out there and playing fast and that’s doing the little extra things, the attention to details of studying and getting those things processed. See ball, go get ball.”

That last sentence sums up how Pagano wants his guys to play. He’s a quality play caller and creative blitzer with a knack making simple plays look complex. He can find and exploit opposing weak links. His defenses have always been good creating pressure and turnovers alike. The Raiders need more of both.

To do that Pagano wants to relieve a player’s mental burden and keep them focused on using talent well.

“The one thing I’ve always stressed and always been about is technique, fundamentals and unbelievable effort,” Pagano said. “I think those three things can get you home.”

The Raiders haven’t been home much as a defense. They’re tied for last with 14 sacks. They’re dead last with six turnovers. They’ve gone 10 games without an interception, the longest single-season drought in NFL history.

A lack of big defensive plays has killed the Raiders this season. It obviously increases points allowed. Good field position has been hard to come by. The offense has to earn everything the hard way. That’s a recipe for losing football, a maddening turn after the Raiders finished second with 30 takeaways last year.

Pagano has a chart listing “MOPs,” short for missed opportunities. There have been many, especially in a secondary he oversaw before this week.

“I talked to these guys this week about we need to do simple better,” Pagano said. “What is simple? It’s fundamentals of covering. It’s tackling. It’s communicating. It’s catching the ball when it comes. We’ve had opportunities. It’s not like we’re out there struggling and straining to dive and layout for the thing. It’s hit us in the hands where we’ve had many, many opportunities.”

Missed opportunities have also plagued a pass rush featuring reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack. Pagano brought up a moment early in Sunday’s lost to New England, when Treyvon Hester forced a fumble near three teammates that the Patriots somehow recovered.

Pagano’s goal is to improve performance. Players must buy in to do that. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin headline a large group close to Norton, one with enough pride and professionalism to get behind a new playcaller in Pagano, who could be here long term.

“There is a human element to this,” Pagano said. “We are family. It’s sad any time a member of your family gets dismissed or something. At the end of the day, we have the Broncos coming in here on Sunday and we have to get our minds right to go play this game. That’s something that they’ve done a great job with this week, truly focusing in on what we need to do.”

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

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USATSI

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

ALAMEDA – Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin were out at Raiders practice Wednesday for the stretching period. Both edge rushers left one-at-a-time during the individual period, which was open to the press, headed into the main building and did not return.

There was no perceived reaction, certainly no surprise, from the coaching staff or players on the field. Irvin and new defensive coordinator John Pagano were seen joking around on the field before practice began in earnest. 

Both Irvin and Mack were given a practice off. A Raiders official called it a day off/rest-type day that was not injury related. The Silver and Black typically practice in pads or shells on Wednesday, but were in jerseys and sweats in the interest of recovery.

This day off's timing did raise an eyebrow.

Wednesday marked the first practice Irvin has missed since training camp. Mack hasn’t missed one in months.

Mack and Irvin’s downtime also came a day after beloved defensive coordinator Ken Norton’s firing.

Several defensive players were upset about Norton's firing, but Mack and Irvin especially were among those loyal to Norton. Mack and Norton developed a bond after the coach was named defensive coordinator in 2015. Norton and Irvin go way back to their days together in Seattle. Irvin credits Norton for helping him get on the right path and stay there.

Neither player was happy Norton got the axe. Irvin made his displeasure clear, tweeting “BULLS***” shortly after news of Norton’s demise broke. Mack told ESPN “I like to keep my thoughts private.” Defensive stars declined comment Wednesday or didn't appear in the locker room when the media was present. 

It isn’t immediately clear if the non-injury related day off was related to Norton’s dismissal. Head coach Jack Del Rio won’t speak to the media again until Friday. New defensive coordinator John Pagano is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon.

Del Rio addressed the media before Wednesday’s practice, and was asked how he’ll handle players unhappy with the in-season shake-up.

“I don’t try and 'handle' them,” Del Rio said. “I think the biggest thing is to understand the relationship, respect that, give him a little space and then at the end of the day, we’re going to get on with our work. But, I’m human. It wasn’t easy for me either.”