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Fascinating NFL Network feature on tonight about Ed Hochuli. The guy's a horse -- 54 years old, lifts weights four days a week and does stairmaster six days a week. Shows him critiquing his own performance from game film, working with his crew, etc. Interesting stuff, gives you a new appreciation for the zebras.
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HEADLINE: Locked-Out Refs Feeling Penalized;
No Talks Planned in NFL Salary Dispute
BYLINE: Leonard Shapiro, Washington Post Staff Writer
Ed Hochuli, a longtime NFL referee and president of the locked-out NFL Referees Association, said yesterday his members are getting angrier by the day and "more and more resolute" in their determination to earn salaries comparable with officials' wages in other major sports leagues.
"Our guys are getting very upset," Hochuli said, adding his members voted 119-0 to take their current action -- demanding to be paid on a level commensurate with officials' salaries in pro baseball, hockey and basketball -- because the hours they work are equivalent to a full-time job.
Hochuli also said members are not happy that league replacement officials are earning $ 2,000 a game and have been guaranteed at least four games to continue once the regular season opens on Sunday. He said no regular NFL official has been paid more than $ 1,260 for working preseason games; the average preseason pay is about $ 1,000.
"The league is obviously preparing itself for a long lockout," Hochuli said in a telephone interview. "They're offering these guys more money because it's pretty obvious they can't find enough quality officials. The only reason they've given them two more games is to entice replacements to sign up and work."
Hochuli, a 12-year referee and a practicing lawyer in Phoenix, had declined to comment on the labor impasse in recent weeks. NFL game officials normally are not allowed to speak with the media unless given permission by the league office. However, Hochuli said because officials are locked out the prohibitions no longer apply, according to the union's labor attorneys.
Hochuli declined to comment on the job the replacements have been doing in their debuts over the past three days. Other union sources have said the few penalties being called make it clear that the replacements have been instructed only to throw flags for the most blatant infractions. They also said there have been a number of errors in rules interpretations and the spotting of the ball.
As of yesterday, Hochuli said no new talks had been scheduled to resume negotiations. He said union negotiator Tom Condon has "told [the NFL] he's ready to talk anywhere at any time on a moment's notice." Condon and league attorney Jeff Pash are scheduled to appear live on an ESPN "Outside the Lines" show this morning at 10:30. Condon will be in Kansas City; Pash will be in a New York studio.
Earlier this week, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue seemed to indicate the league's last offer, including a 40 percent pay increase this year, a doubling of salaries by 2003 and a 120 percent increase in the fifth year, still was negotiable.
"It depends on the other side being more reasonable than they have been," Tagliabue said recently at a New York Jets luncheon. "We've made a very generous and fair offer. . . . We're prepared to negotiate on some things, but part of the problem is that all they do is reject our offers without telling us what they don't like about it, other than the 400 percent increase they want."
Hochuli said he and his members are willing to negotiate but are determined to raise their salaries to levels comparable with those of other major pro sports. "We're so far apart [from the other sports], it would take a significant increase just to get us up to parity," he said.
Virtually all NFL officials work in other careers, and Hochuli said he believes many of his members would be happy to work at football full-time for six months of the season, with more hours in the offseason. He also knows it has been difficult to get much fan support for such huge increases, "but I don't know if percentage increases should be the criteria.
"I'm sure fans are saying, 'God, a 40 percent increase, what's wrong with that?' They'd jump at it. But they wouldn't if they knew that in their own jobs, if everyone doing the same thing they were doing was making 400 percent more than they were; they'd want to be paid on an equal footing."
Hochuli said he had no idea about the experience level of the replacement officials, most of whom are coming from college football. The NFL has not released that information, claiming it does do not want the regular officials harassing the replacements and trying to convince them not to work.
"We would not harass them," Hochuli said. "We have not done it in the past. We have simply asked them not to work."
LOAD-DATE: September 2, 2001
Sorry for posting the whole article, but it was a copy & paste from a refree site I visit.