Updated 09/27/2012 11:06 PM
NFL Reaches Deal With Referees To End Lockout
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Two days after a controversial call turned the outcome of Monday night's nationally televised NFL game, the National Football League and the referees' union reached a tentative contract agreement early Thursday morning to end the league's three-month lockout of its on-field officials.
The agreement on a new eight-year contract means that regular officials will work Sunday's Jets game against San Francisco and Monday night's nationally televised Giants game in Philadelphia.
The league said it plans to have regular referees back on the field at Thursday night's Cleveland-Baltimore game.
During a news conference Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the deal has the right economic framework and sets up a talent pool to develop and train new officials.
"We were already into that intensive period and it just helped - it helped to push us to the point that we got the agreement that we really needed to get," Goodell said.
The agreement will end three weeks of officiating by replacement referees that included numerous missed penalties and questionable calls, culminating with what many saw as a missed call against the Seattle Seahawks that cost the Green Bay Packers a win on Monday Night Football.
"It was quite the fiasco the other night," said one football fan.
"The Green Bay game was just absolutely horrendous," added another football fan.
The union was seeking improved salaries and retirement benefits, while the league had proposed a pension freeze and a higher 401(k) match, plus the hiring of 21 more officials to improve the quality of officiating.
"It's about time that the quality of the game improves significantly so it makes it more worthwhile to watch it," said one football fan.
"I can sit down and really watch a whole entire game without turning my TV off," said another football fan.
The tentative deal must still be ratified by the union's 121 members.
A vote is expected to take place on Friday and Saturday in Dallas.
If approved, a clinic, or refresher course will be held afterwards in advance of Sunday's games.