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NFL playoffs: what is the salary of an NFL referee for Wild Card games?

Though the pressure on them is immense - especially in the post season - it’s encouraging to see that referees in the league are very well compensated and even after they retire.

NFL playoffs: what is the salary of an NFL referee for Wild Card games?

NFL referee’s salaries are undisclosed, however, a report from 2019 shows that the average referee earns around $205,000, which is much higher than the amount earned before, which was $149,000 on average.

Average salary of an NFL referee

NFL referees are paid a per-game amount as well as a substantial pension plan on top of a flat fee per season. Postseason games offer higher earnings, with double the amount paid compared to games during the regular season. To be clear, if we use the aforementioned 2019 report, NFL referees receive approximately $12,000 per regular season game. There has never been any official report on how much referees make, which means estimates are based primarily on prior figures and of course word-of-mouth. There is of course a range in salaries, due to things like seniority and their specific role i.e., a head referee and there can even be increases in salary if the game has a high attendance or is of great importance.

How do NFL referee salaries stack up against others?

Let’s put things in perspective for you. If we use the general figures from 2019, an average American worker took home an annual salary of $51,916.27. With that in mind, NFL referees made on average $153,000 more than the majority of Americans that year. In other words, the average referee in the league makes more or less the same as a primary care physician who pocketed approximately $209,000 in 2022. While that’s got to be considered a decent payday, it still pales in comparison to the salaries of actual players in the league. The minimum wage for an NFL player is $660,000 a year, which is to say $455,000 more than a referee. Where coaches are concerned, the lowest salary among them is in the realm of $3 million, while the highest paid are earning as much as $12.5 million per season.

What about the playoffs and the Super Bowl?

As you can probably guess, officiating the Super Bowl is the pinnacle of it all for NFL referees, who can receive a bonus between $40,000-$50,000 from the annual event if they are chosen to call it. It’s also worth noting that they are paid between $1,000 and $5,000 for each playoff game. On top of all of this, there is also a significant pension of up to $18,000 a year. It goes without saying that the job of an NFL referee - especially in the post season - is one of high pressure, but as you can see, they are rewarded handsomely for their efforts.

What happened to NFL Referees during covid-19?

With all the dangers of the coronavirus, many officials didn’t feel comfortable participating, but the NFL made sure they were accommodated for. NFL referees could opt for a $30,000 stipend, according to a parliamentary agreement between the league and NFL Referees Association.

Dark period

All of the referees on the NFL officiating roster are part-time and have what is called ‘a dark period’ between the end of the season and the middle of May. That time and during the summer is when they typically focus on their other job.


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