NFL needs to pay its referees more money

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It’s not supposed to work this way.

Referees shouldn’t be leaving football to enter broadcasting prematurely. They are, in whole or in part because the NFL doesn’t pay referees as much as the NFL should.

It’s been a common complaint. People connected to the league believe the league doesn’t value these jobs the way that the NFL should, resulting in multiple referees choosing in recent years to leave the game prematurely. As noted by Peter King on Monday after the NFL announced that John Parry was retiring for a gig with ESPN, seven of 17 referees have retired in the last 13 months. Although some surely would have retired anyway, some surely would have stayed if the money was better, because money is always a factor when making decisions like this.

The money surely needs to be better. Would a player still in his prime ever stop playing because he could make more money in the broadcast booth? No player would, and no referee should, either.

After Gene Steratore, Jeff Triplette, and Terry McAulay joined CBS, ESPN, and NBC, respectively, in 2018, many assumed that no other TV jobs would be available any time soon. But with the supply of potentially TV-ready referees far outweighing the demand, ESPN was able to dump Triplette for Parry.

As legalized gambling spreads, the stakes will only get higher for the NFL. Beyond having good procedures in place to rectify errors, errors need to be minimized. Better referees are much more likely to make fewer mistakes. Thus, better referees need to be making enough money so that they’ll choose to stay put.

Interestingly, the networks aren’t shying away from hiring active referees, even though doing so could cause the NFL to view those networks as something other than good partners. Ultimately, the market needs to operate freely; if the networks can make attractive offers to referees, the NFL should be able to make much better offers, given that referees are far more critical to football games than rules consultants are to the broadcasting of them.

78 responses to “NFL needs to pay its referees more money

  1. You just need to apply for a job with the NFL. You know what they should be doing at every turn. I’ve never liked a know it all and that’s how Mike Florio comes off as

  2. The “make them all full-time” thing got shot down by a professional referee, so now we’re going to argue that more money is the magic elixir. As long as they are human there will be mistakes. Accept it. They generally do a great job right now. Maybe add some guys or give them more tools. That’s all you can do.

  3. “Interestingly, the networks aren’t shying away from hiring active referees, even though doing so could cause the NFL to view those networks as something other than good partners.”

    Good partners? More like symbiotic parasites. If it’s one thing the NFL (the owners) understand it’s the golden rule, whoever has the gold makes the rules.

  4. This is the same organization that is basically printing their own money, gets free stadiums for most of the league, yet claims they can’t afford goal line cameras, pay cheerleaders more than $75/game, or hire full time refs.

  5. I wonder how many refs they could pay with half of Roger Goodell’s salary. Probably all of them.

  6. The NFL needs to ensure they have the best game officials. In the Saints game, there were 2 game officials looking right at the play that was the problem – you can see them in the background of pictures showing the play looking right at the play. Yet neither one made the correct call. Since it was a playoff game, these were supposed to be 2 of the better officials.

  7. “(If the referees improve their performance) the NFL needs to pay its referees more money”

  8. Its one of the most important, if not the most important, functions related to the actual game. You have a multi BILLION a year business. Let’s hire people part-time to do the job, and lets not pay them very much. It doesn’t even pass the common sense test. I understand it won’t make them perfect, but what is the argument against doing those 2 things?

  9. Referees are obsolete, error-prone, and should be sent to the same dustbin occupied by switchboard operators and VHS repairmen.

    The time is now to replace the officials with cheaper and more effective A.I. and drones.

  10. arcross12042004scorp15 says:
    April 2, 2019 at 11:00 am
    NFL refs are slated to make $ 201,000 this year + expenses. Doesn’t sound terrible for a part time job.
    ——-
    Correct. $201k plus expenses to work up to 3 hours a week for 16-20 weeks with cardio depending on which referee you are. Seems like a good gig to me.

    In other words – Florio needs to stop counting other peoples money.

  11. I agree, throw more money at the problem. That’s what the politicians in DC do, and it fixes everything, doesn’t it?

  12. Tripplett was an official for 21 years. McAulay, was an official for 20 years. McAulay was an official for 20 years. Steratore was an official for 15 and is still involved in the NCAA and the NBA.

    I am no defender of the NFL but to point out official’s compensation as the root of the problem with officiating or the reason they aren’t staying seems to me to be lazy journalism. Just saying…..

  13. I don’t understand this. It’s like the referees don’t seem to want to he full time becaose thenly feel this is a part time gig which I get since the season is only 6 months. However, if they took the offseason and had clinics, watched film and studied controversial calls, it could limit many, not all potentially disasterous situations. The thing is, many of these referees have very lucrative and rewarding careers outside of the NFL which pay much better than the league. Maybe if the NFL made these guys full time and gave them a complete benefits package and upped the salary to make it their career it would eliminate this nonsense. I never understood why more former players don’t get into officiating. Work their way through the ranks and when they get to the pro game are still athletic enough to keep up with the action much better than these older officials. No disrespect to them they move very well for older guys hit a former player who is a world conditioned athlete would be more qualified in my eyes. The game has outgrown part time officials and this needs to he recognized.

  14. I was watching something the other day, that wasn’t football, and they trotted that bozo Gene Steratore out to give his uninformed interpretation of the rules. It might have been the NCAA Tournament.

  15. A referee can make the right calls/no-calls on 99.843% of the plays and obnoxious fans and media will still complain non-stop about the one call he missed. How many death threats did the guy in the Saints-Rams game deserve? Zero, yet that doesn’t stop the morons stalking him and his family and threatening him over a game.

    No thanks.

  16. “Ultimately, the market needs to operate freely”

    America hasn’t seen a free market since the 1980’s. Unfortunately the monopolized corporations dictate everything.

  17. Maybe they have this mythical thing known as Integrity and they simply don’t like the direction the NFL is heading.

    I could very easily be wrong, but that’s also a possibility.

    Does the NFL want the type of better ref that makes less mistakes, or the better ref that fixes the games for the suits?

  18. skmad2014 says: “You have a multi BILLION a year business. Let’s hire people part-time to do the job, and lets not pay them very much.”
    ===================

    PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW A FULL-TIME OFFICIAL WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

    – To get into the NFL level, these officials have 15+ years experience. At 15 games a year, that’s (15 yrs x 15 gms x 120 plays/gm) a MINIMUM 27,000 football plays they’ve already seen BEFORE enter the NFL. What haven’t they already seen?

    – The rulebook on gameplay is only 10-12 pages. Please show me ONE example where an official didn’t know the actual rule. Just because you don’t agree with his/her call doesn’t mean they don’t know the rule.

    – There’s no gamefilm to study. Officials don’t care about team strategies or tactics or that the play call is “Spider 2 Y Banana.” They’re just watching their player assignment and that’s it.

  19. No human being can be a perfect referee. They’re like the rest of us. Many will be replaced by robots, or in their case, camera’s. Same with umpires calling balls and strikes. What if there was a traffic cop at every intersection instead of red lights? That’s what referees are. They now have radar to catch speeders. Video camera’s at intersection to catch red light runners. My grandkids will laugh when they see old NFL video’s with referees running around on the field.

  20. WTF is “enough”? The average NFL referee is set to make $205,000 in 2019 – for 17 weeks of work. Granted, they put in more than 17 weeks for this. But, for an average salary of $205,000, these referees do not need to work the rest of the year – but can. Give me a break.

  21. whysosenestive445 says:
    April 2, 2019 at 10:45 am
    You just need to apply for a job with the NFL. You know what they should be doing at every turn. I’ve never liked a know it all and that’s how Mike Florio comes off as

    ====================================================================

    Agreed.

  22. If the NFL doesn’t pay the refs more money, the gamblers will. If they haven’t already. I think there are some serious questions about that.

  23. When you take a job, you know what you will be paid.

    Once you have worked for a while, presumably you will know the ins and outs of the job.

    Now if you don’t like your pay, you can always do what others do: QUIT and go get another job. This is America. You are free to go wherever you want and do whatever your skills will allow you to do.

    Isn’t this what Florio would do?

  24. Here’s the deal: Giving refs full-time wages will probably not improve their judgement. Attack the problem by selecting a better pool of applicants.

    In terms of the proverbial, “maximizing personal utility” in economics, refs are paid not just in dollars and cents, but in prestige of having that particular position. In other words, applicants aren’t likely to turn down a weekend ref job because it pays too little, and increasing the pay won’t attract better applicants. The problem is selection, and maintaining teams of refs so that they develop trust and cohesion with their calls. It also means dropping bad ref crews.

  25. Broadcasters should stop paying part time refs ridiculous amounts of money for 10 minutes of air time a week.

  26. If it weren’t for the fines against the Patriots and the players the poor NFL wouldn’t have two nickles to rub together after paying Roger all that money. How can they pay part timers with back up support in New York City full time money?

  27. “NFL refs are slated to make $ 201,000 this year + expenses. Doesn’t sound terrible for a part time job.”

    Plus full, high end health insurance and a significant package of other benefits.

  28. Sure….. But make them incentives laden contracts loaded with de-escalaters for poor performance

  29. NCAA College Referees make $3000 per 60 minutes of play. x 10-12 games per season (36,000 per season).
    Seems to me, the NFL is paying above the next level down.
    $205k per year average looks very competitive.

    World Cup referees get paid 70-80 Euros per year or roughly 90,000 per season….

    So exactly what are the refs complaining about?
    Some are lawyers, company founders, school principles a directors or vice presidents at commercial companies… nice part time gig.

    … better than selling Mary Kaye or Amway Soap to afford life’s extras.
    …not to mention the fringe benefits, travel, seeing the game at the field level (as good as season tickets or better)… and they’re not staying at motel6…

    Just sayin’ where do I sign up?

  30. Except Vinovich’s crew…they should get paid less or better yet, be fired all together.

  31. Sure give them more money when their performance has hurt the NFL product. That makes a lot of sense Mike. They need to get rid of the bad crews that screw up too often.

  32. springfb15almostgoneagaindangit says: “So exactly what are the refs complaining about?”
    ======================

    The refs weren’t the one complaining.

    It’s the media “experts” that think they know what’s best for a private organization and how they should run things.

  33. Start with a base salary of whatever they are accepting as bribes. Then tack on whatever they are betting when they throw games.

    If you don’t pay them enough and they remain part time employees…wouldn’t they lean towards accepting bribes and throwing games more for money?

  34. So, let me get this straight, you are advocating paying them more than the $205,000+ that they are already making? There is absolutely no rational argument that can be made for paying them more money. Paying them more, will not improve their eyesight. LOL

  35. arcross12042004scorp15 says:
    April 2, 2019 at 11:00 am
    NFL refs are slated to make $ 201,000 this year + expenses. Doesn’t sound terrible for a part time job.

    *********************************************************************************

    Except when you compare it to working part-time for a network, which gives you cushier conditions, less stress, potentially less travel, and more money. Wonder how much Gene Steratore is making as a rules analyst compared to when he was as a ref.

  36. They make 200 grand per year. Pretty good money for a job that requires nothing more than knowing the rules of football, and only requires 20 weeks work per year. Well, a few hours a week for 20 weeks. 10 large for 3 or 4 hours work.

  37. ESPN fired Triplette and hired Parry? See, even ESPN was smart enough to can Triplette in short order, while the NFL kept him for over 20 years despite his obvious incompetence.

  38. 8oneanddones says:
    April 2, 2019 at 11:03 am
    I wonder how many refs they could pay with half of Roger Goodell’s salary. Probably all of them.
    _____________

    This is likely accurate. Refs average $200k per year, which breaks down to $12,500 per game over 16 games. 7 refs per game times 256 games = 1,792 individual game checks at $12,500 each, which totals $22.4 million.

  39. steelpenguin6687 says:
    April 2, 2019 at 12:26 pm
    There is absolutely no rational argument that can be made for paying them more money.

    ***********************************************************************

    Did you read the article? The rationale’s laid out pretty clearly.

  40. What idiot propose this pay raise? The job that the NFL referees do is not worth a dime raise. They should be fined, suspended or fired for some of the calls that were and weren’t made last season.

  41. When you’re as important and significant a cog in a multi-billion dollar industry like a referee is you should be well compensated for the simple reason being the league shouldn’t want their refs whose decisions literally decides games to be susceptible to bribes or point shaving schemes.

  42. NFL needs to pay its referees more money

    _________________________________________

    So Mike, you believe that the NFL should pay the referees more money?

    For WHAT? Making all of those BAD/HORRIBLE CALLS, NOW THATS SOME BRILLIANT THINKING THERE, give them more money because they can’t do their job now!!!!!!!!!!!!

  43. Instead of beating the drum to give the refs more money I have an idea, why don’t you talk to these networks and make a case that theose refs shouldn’t be paid so much because it’s causing them to leave the NFL and start right there with your network, the one that published this piece of crap article!

    What is it about the media and them ALWAYS wanting to give someone elses money away, they’re just like liberals!

  44. mmmpierogi says:
    April 2, 2019 at 2:00 pm
    steelpenguin6687 says:
    April 2, 2019 at 12:26 pm
    There is absolutely no rational argument that can be made for paying them more money.

    ***********************************************************************

    Did you read the article? The rationale’s laid out pretty clearly.
    ============================================================================

    I read it, and I don’t agree. If some quit for a supposedly better job in broadcasting, so be it. How will paying these guys more, make them any better? They are human, they are going to make mistakes, whether paid $200,000 or $2,000,000 per year. If they get a raise to $300,000+, and the same results are displayed on the field, do they get a raise to $400,000 to improve the product?

  45. How do they feed their kids on $205,000 a year? Their houses must reek of Ramen farts!

  46. I’m stunned no one pointed out that Romo fits this description fairly well.

    “Would a player still in his prime ever stop playing because he could make more money in the broadcast booth? No player would, and no referee should, either.”

  47. steelpenguin6687 says:
    April 2, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    I read it, and I don’t agree. If some quit for a supposedly better job in broadcasting, so be it. How will paying these guys more, make them any better? They are human, they are going to make mistakes, whether paid $200,000 or $2,000,000 per year. …

    ******************************************************************************

    Issue isn’t directly about reducing error rates with current refs or thinking that paying them more will reduce errors. It’s about reducing ref turnover and avoiding talent loss.

    Paying refs more offers greater incentive to stay and not leave for other more lucrative opportunities. Otherwise, these guys leave and the NFL has to promote lower-level refs with way less experience, fewer qualifications, and over the long run, are more likely to make more errors. Think ref quality is bad now? If you watched during the 2012 ref lockout, you know it gets worse quickly. I also don’t think the NFL is excited about promoting a bunch from the collegiate ranks given the quality of officiating there.

  48. Why doesn’t the NFL open the referee jobs to a test ? I know crazy idea give them a test for a job.
    Seriously, show the video of real time plays for pass interference , ect. Have them make the call and replay in slow motion. Some people going to be better than others. They just will.

  49. I agree that refs need to be paid more. They preserve the integrity of a game which makes $billions and takes advantage of tax payers at every opportunity, uses the military, turns breast cancer into a marketing scheme, and doesn’t really do anything positive for the world. It’s shocking to hear people defend low wages for refs, but the truth is that the NFL makes the most off low wage employees who typically do not make as much as refs do. That’s the truth.

    At the very least the NFL needs to require reffing be a full time gig. They also need to pay cheerleaders and extra staff.

    It wasn’t long ago, well maybe a decade, that the NFL had massive layoffs of support personnel. And yet their profits have only gone in one direction: up. It’s irresponsible to manage corporate profits that way.

  50. MyNameJuan says:
    April 2, 2019 at 10:52 am
    “Ultimately, the market needs to operate freely; ”

    Mike!!! Is that really you?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Situational anomaly. In this case the free market would stick it to the man (NFL) so it’s fine.

  51. No they don’t need to pay the officials more money. The NFL hires officials who are well off already to lessen the chance of them taking a bribe to affect games.
    What the NFL needs to do is trim the rule book by about a third and make every rule totally understandable so these guys have a better chance to call better games.

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