NFL referees return tonight - WLTZ 38 | Columbus Georgia Regional News & Community

NFL referees return tonight

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(CNN) - After several on-field errors and controversial calls, the short and painful era of replacement referees is over.

NFL and referees union members reached a deal late last night to end the lockout.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the refs will return to the field for tonight's game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns.

He issued a statement saying, "We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement"

The eight-year deal ends an embarrassing period for the NFL.

The league has used replacement officials for the first three weeks of the regular season, as well as the pre-season.

A series of bad referee decisions have become fodder for jokes and criticism.

It culminated in a game-deciding call Monday night between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks.

The call gave the game to the Seahawks and inspired criticism by fans, players and even politicians.
It also prompted a chorus of protesting honks outside the home stadium of the Packers.
The bad call was no doubt heart-breaking and perhaps even bank-breaking for those with money on the line.

A gambler said, "It's tough to take as a gambler, you know, I can handle losing, you know, it's part of what we do, I can handle losing, but just not like that."

Founder,, RJ Bell said, "If the Packers had won, the players would have won about 150 million, and since they lost, they lost about 150 million, so this was a 300 million dollar swing in favor of the bookies and it was a loss for the players."

The deal includes details about officials' pensions and retirement benefits and adds a pay bump from $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013.

The pay will rise to $205,000 by 2019.  

The agreement will also allow the NFL to hire some officials on a year-round basis.

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