It’s why they are at present locking out their referees over a dispute that boils down to an average of $62,500 per team per season over the next seven years. Actually a little less because the number being argued over is a difference of about $10 million to $12 million over seven years so it’s actually less than $2 million a year but let’s make the math easy. To save roughly $62,500 a year per billionaire owner, the NFL will likely enter the season using glorified Pop Warner officials (at least one of whom was allegedly fired by the Lingerie Football League, according to former head of NFL officials Mike Pereira).
With 119 total officials, it all works out to an average divide of $27,250 per official per year.
Another major dispute flows from retirement benefits. Like many employers, the NFL wants to convert its defined benefit plan to a 401(k) defined contribution plan, shifting the risks of the market to the individual employees. Given that, for most if not all officials, working games is a well-paying hobby, being treated in their hobbies like the vast majority of American workers shouldn’t be a big deal.
The NFL also wants to add 21 more officials (three total crews), in order to provide the league with a “bench” that could be used during the season to replace officials who are struggling. While the league apparently would be paying all officials out of the same pot, if the average increases cited by the league take into account the expanded roster of officials, it should be a non-issue. (It’s likely an issue because the locked-out officials don’t want to have in-season accountability.)
I gotta side with refs here. They have the money to pay them and the officials who run pro sports should be treated like pros.