NFL referees will be back to the field this weekend and replacement referees back to wherever it is they came from, new reports claim.
The league and the NFL Referees’ Association spent a lot of time at the negotiating table following the replacement referees botching the ending to the Monday Night Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, Yahoo! Sports noted.
A blatantly incorrect call — that Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate caught the game-winning touchdown as time expired, despite the fact that he committed pass interference and didn’t even come down with the ball — was the catalyst for talks to renew this week, and late Wednesday they reportedly struck a deal to return.
As Yahoo! Sports reported:
According to several reports from many sources, the two sides are ready to sign off on the details of a multi-year collective bargaining agreement that will bring the real officials back from their lockout and quite possibly on the field for Thursday night’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.
The new contract for NFL referees will be eight years long, Tara Sullivan of the Bergen Record reported.
Sullivan also reports that a crew has not been assigned for the Ravens-Browns game on Thursday night, but that this is now a major priority. Both sides reportedly want the teams to be able to play with the same competitive balance that other teams will see this weekend as NFL referees return and replacement referees go home.
The NFL referees are ready largely because of the work of Ed Hochuli, who Yahoo! Sports referred to as “the dean of NFL officials,” Peter King of Sports Illustrated reported.
“That’s one of the reasons why the officials will be up to date and ready to go,” a source told King. “Ed grabbed the bull by the horns and made sure that whenever this thing ended, the regular officials would be ready to go back to work immediately.”
Hochuli had reportedly been holding weekly rules-related conference calls with NFL referees, even implementing weekly testing of officials and going over the results with his colleagues so they would be ready to return and take over for replacement referees.