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NFL refs lockout: A $10 billion league versus $16 million in labor demands

Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers argues with referees during their game against the Detroit Lions at Candlestick Park on September 16, 2012 in San Francisco, California. On Monday night, the replacement refs may have lost the Green Bay Packers a game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Had enough yet? NFL players, coaches, and fans seem pretty fed up, after a controversial conclusion to Monday night's game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers. Touchdown? Interception? "Simultaneous catch?" 

The replacement referees brought in while the regular refs are locked out in a labor dispute were disoriented by it all, but it's not as if we haven't been warned and warned and warned some more that something like this was happening. The question is: Will the NFL budge on the lockout, now that the nightmare scenario — potentially botched call that costs a team the game in the final seconds — has come to pass?

The numbers on the refs' side are all...rather small, relatively speaking. True, average pay is about $150,000 a year. But there are less than 200 NFL refs, and in a league that's looking for $10 billion in annual revenues by next season, with $12-$14 billion in sight, you'd think that such a small group with such a large impact in the overall package could command more. Especially when you consider that in 2011 the NFL wrapped up a $3-billion-per-year extension to its TV deal.

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