Never before have officials been so celebrated.
The NFL and its referees union signed an eight-year contract Wednesday night, ending their surprising labor stalemate in time for this week's contests.
The regular NFL refs are back on the job today, scheduled to work Thursday’s Browns-Ravens as well as the week’s remaining games Sunday and Monday night.
Their pending return was a source of jubilation among players and fans. If you haven't been following it, the worst call in NFL history Monday night (above) sums it up.
Incredibly, it took a full three-month lockout and three regular season weeks of bumbling replacement officials to compromise on a deal that should've been worked out ages ago.
The two big sticking points:
- Referees' pensions.
- The NFL's desire to add a "taxi" squad of additional officials that could ostensibly be called in to replace underperforming regulars.
Both were settled without the other side fully blinking, and the whole thing came down to incremental amounts of money relative to the NFL’s $9 billion business.
The compromises they came up with in the end were pretty simple, which just makes the last month more ridiculous. But in any case, welcome back, zebras!