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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.
National Football League players and coaches are ready to throw a flag of their own and do away with the replacement referees that have been officiating pro football games for the first two weeks of the new season.
NFL officials have been locked out since their contract with the league expired in June. As the fill-in refs have slowed down America’s most popular and profitable game, many have come to think that NFL stands for “no fun league”, and the way things have looked so far this season they may be right. And the refs aren’t happy, either.
Negotiations broke down several times this summer and after two meetings last week the two sides remain far apart. The primary sticking points between the NFL and the NFL Referees Association are salary, retirement benefits and myriad operational issues. The league has said that with its current offer an experienced NFL official could earn up to $200,000 a season, but the referees’ union says that the new deal would ultimately reduce their salaries.
On the field, players and coaches have been frustrated by poor calls and damage to the “integrity of the game” and fans have complained about the slow pace and frequent pauses by officials while figuring out rules.
Do NFL refs need a more comprehensive compensation package? How has the lockout affected the games so far this season? What is fair pay for officiating America’s most lucrative sport?
Sam Farmer, NFL writer for the Los Angeles Times
Jerry Markbreit, former NFL official