The NFL’s regular officiating crews are back. Their return couldn’t have come soon enough for many players, coaches and fans.
After two days of marathon negotiations — and mounting frustration throughout the league — the NFL and the officials’ union announced shortly after midnight that a tentative eight-year agreement had been reached to end a lockout that began in June.
The deal came on the heels of Seattle’s chaotic last-second win over Green Bay on Monday night in which the replacement officials struggled. Commissioner Roger Goodell, who was at the bargaining table Tuesday and Wednesday, said the regular officials would work the Browns-Ravens game at Baltimore on Thursday night. Gene Steratore, beginning his 10th season in the NFL, is the referee and will lead the seven-man crew.
“We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games,” NFL Referees Association president Scott Green said.
The players’ union is happy to have them.
“Our workplace is safer with the return of our professional referees,” the NFLPA said in a statement Thursday. “We welcome our fellow union members back on our field.”