NFL Referees set to take the field tonight for first time this year
Compiled By Andrew Millichamp
The NFL’s regular referees are back on the field.
The league has reached an agreement in principle with the NFL Referees Association on a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement.
The officials will return to the field starting tonight, as the Cleveland Browns visit the Baltimore Ravens. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell temporarily lifted the lockout which has been in place since June.
The Referee Association membership will meet this weekend for a ratification vote, which requires 51 per cent of the 121 union members. If ratified this will be the longest agreement with the on-field officials in NFL history.
“We look forward to having the finest officials in sports back on the field,” said Goodell in a press release.
The lockout reached new heights and media attention Monday night when a botched touchdown call on the final play of the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers handed the west coast team the victory.
This resulted in a Las Vegas casino taking the unusual step of refunding gamblers who lost money due to the controversial call, according to CBC.ca.
Green Bay were 3 1/2 point favourites, and would have covered the spread had the play been called an interception.
John Avello, director of the betting section of the Las Vegas based Wynn casino, told espn.com that the call shifted an estimated $150 million worldwide.
In the NFL impasse, both the league and Referees Association received at least some of what they were hoping for. The Referees were looking for an increase in salary and protection of their pension plan while the NFL wanted to have more control over teaching and replacing officials, according the NFL statement.
Before the regular season started, referee Ed Hochuli began circulating tests to the 121 referees as well as conducting conference calls to review tape and discuss rules, according to the Seattle Times. This was done to ensure that the regular officials would be ready to step back on the field
“We’re excited to be back. And ready,” Hochuli told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “And I think that’s the most important message — that we’re ready.”