The NFL and the NFL Referees Association have reportedly reached an agreement on a new labor deal that will allow the referees to begin officiating games immediately. That means that a crew of union refs is expected to be on the field on Thursday night when the Baltimore Ravens take on the Cleveland Browns.
According to Pro Football Talk, the union officials will gather in Dallas on Friday to receive their equipment and game assignments for Week 4's action. The same crews who worked together last season will be intact this year. An agreement between the referees and the league had reportedly been in place for much of Wednesday, but it all officially came together on Wednesday night. The terms of the deal have not yet been released.
Replacement officials came under even more scrutiny this week after a controversial ending to the Monday Night Football matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. As time expired, Golden Tate came down with a Hail Mary that was ruled a simultaneous catch in the end zone. The two officials signaled different things: One a touchdown and the other an interception. After review, the call on the field -- a touchdown -- was upheld, giving the Seahawks the win.
The controversial the play sparked may have been the straw that broke the camel's back -- though we'll likely never know for sure. Officials and the NFL did, however, get back to the negotiating table shortly thereafter before reaching a deal to end the lockout on Wednesday.