The NFL and the referees’ union reached a deal late Wednesday (Sept. 26) that will see the officials return to the field Thursday night after a disastrous three-month lockout.
“Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night” for the Browns-Ravens game in Baltimore, said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement. “We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA [NFL Referees Association] in working through the issues to reach this important agreement,” which, Goodell says, will ultimately “make officiating better.”
The statement continues, “The teams, players and fans want and deserve both consistency and quality in officiating” — sorely lacking in the first three weeks of the regular season, when replacement referees’ repeated errors infuriated fans, players and coaches. The tipping point came Monday night (Sept. 24), when an official’s error cost the Green Bay Packers a victory over the Seattle Seahawks in.
“We look forward to having the finest officials in sports back on the field, and I want to give a special thanks to NFL fans for their passion,” Goodell concludes. “Now it’s time to put the focus back on the teams and players where it belongs.”
That’s a call we can all agree on.