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McAulay quits NFLRA (sort of) after statement calling out his crew

Last week’s debacle at MetLife Stadium resulted in no consequences for referee Terry McAulay’s crew beyond the normal grading process. Despite the absence of a problem for McAulay and the NFL, there’s apparently a problem between McAulay and the union that represents him, the NFL Referees Association.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, McAulay wasn’t happy with the decision of NFLRA executive director Jim Quirk to issue a statement criticizing the crew for its handling of the game. According to the source, McAulay was sufficiently upset to essentially quit the union.

Technically, union dues payment is mandatory. Union involvement, however, isn’t. Which means that McAulay isn’t required to take any role in advancing the interests or agenda of the union.

NFLRA leadership is trying to get McAulay to reconsider. That will require McAulay to get past these comments from Quirk: “I don’t want to second-guess the guys that worked the game, but I thought they should have been a lot more judicious in their attempts to get this thing under control. I don’t know why they did what they did, but I wish it had been handled different.”

McAulay surely wishes his crew had handled it differently, too. It wasn’t within his jurisdiction to police the interactions between Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Panthers cornerback Josh Norman.

Still, the league’s overall culture has counseled caution when ejecting players, given the potential impact on competitive balance. That could change after last Sunday.

Whether McAulay changes his mind about the NFLRA may hinge on whether Quirk or someone else issues another statement that expresses support for the league.

As one source remarked to PFT, “Can you imagine [NFLPA executive director] DeMaurice Smith issuing a statement like that about a player?” Indeed, the job of a union is to protect all of its members, not to call them out. McAulay’s anger is understandable, and Quirk would be wise to find a way to put the toothpaste back in the tube.