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NFL’s Goodell Defends Lockout of Officials, Apologizes to Fans

Commissioner Roger Goodell defended the National Football League’s lockout of officials, saying it helped bring about an eight-year labor agreement that will protect the U.S.’s most-popular sport in the long term.

Goodell apologized to fans after three weeks of games with replacement crews’ numerous disputed calls, while saying the deal’s provisions, such as allowing the league to create a training pool of new officials or hire some fulltime, would improve the NFL.

“Sometimes you have to go through something like that in the short term for the right agreement for the long term,” he said on a conference call with reporters.

The NFL and the officials union reached a new labor agreement about two days after a game-ending call awarded a victory to the Seattle Seahawks that President Barack Obama labeled “terrible” and one player described as “embarrassing.”

The league, which has annual revenue of about $9.3 billion, and its officials met for two days in New York to settle disagreements on pay and pensions. Officials’ compensation will increase to $173,000 in 2013 and $205,000 by 2019 from an average of $149,000 in 2011, according to an NFL news release. The pension system will change after the 2016 season.

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