- Darren Rovell, ESPN.com Sports Business reporter
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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he was pleased with Wednesday night's season opener, the first time the league has used replacement referees in a regular-season game since the first week of the 2001 season.
"I think our officials did a more than adequate job last night and I think that we've proven that we can train them and get them up to NFL standards," said Goodell, at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit, an event which took place in Manhattan on Thursday afternoon.
But Goodell said he didn't think the performance from the replacement officials last night meant more leverage for the league.
"I think we were dealing from a position of strength from the get-go," Goodell said. "We did this 11 years ago. The game does not stop."
Unable to forge an agreement with the NFL Referees Association after negotiations last week, the league decided to roll the dice with replacement crews this week. In Wednesday night's game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, there were no noticeable signs of inexperience from the replacement officials.
Goodell said that the current divide between the league and the referees is about $50 million to $70 million on a five- to seven-year deal. The offer the league has on the table would bump the average official's salary from $150,000 to $200,000.
Referees are contract employees and many hold other jobs in the offseason. But the league hopes to institute a hybrid system where one referee from each crew works for the league full time.
The referees also want to keep the current defined benefits program, while the NFL wants to move away from that system.
The league is paying head referee replacements $3,500 per game and $3,000 per game to the other officials on the field. The lowest paid rookie official made $4,500 per game last season.