Thanks in large part to a last-second debacle with replacement officials that gave the Seahawks a 14-12 win over the Green Bay Packers before an astonished audience of Monday Night Football millions, the NFL and its referees union reached agreement late Wednesday night on a new, eight-year deal.
NFL.com received confirmations from both sides that terms had been reached. Officials will take assignments this week, including Thursday night's game in Baltimore between the Ravens and Cleveland Browns.
"Our officials will be back on the field," Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement released by the NFL. "We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement."
"Our Board of Directors has unanimously approved taking this proposed CBA to the membership for a ratification vote,” said Scott Green, president of the NFLRA. “We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week's games.”
Following the final scrimmage play in CenturyLink Field, when Golden Tate was credited with a 24-yard touchdown reception despite the fact that Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings initially controlled the pass from quarterback Russell Wilson, the NFL's worst nightmare had come true: A game result was reversed because the replacement officials were unsure of the call and replay officials declined to reverse it -- on the game's biggest stage.
While the Seattle crowd rocked with delight, the Packers were furious, coach Mike McCarthy saying through gritted teeth, "This was the most unusual game I've ever been a part of," while his players on the flight back contemplated staging a protest strike. Even winning coach Pete Carroll said, "It's time for this (referee lockout) to be over."
And it was, in less than 48 hours.
Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners had stoutly resisted compromises to their position despite a cavalcade of criticism from fans, media, coaches and players that replacements were jeopardizing the game's integrity and player safety.
One concession reported earlier in the day was the NFL backed off its plan to add 21 new officials to the 121-member referee pool and also reduce the number of games for current officials. Instead, seven referees will be added as a part of a development progream, under control of the union. Also, there was no increase in the amount of money that goes into the compensation pool.