The National Football League and the NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) have reached an agreement that will send replacement officials home immediately.
Replacement officials have been on the field since the start of the season, but that controversial era has ended. ESPN states, "After 48 regular-season games of botched calls, incorrect interpretations of rules, misplaced spotting of the ball and lengthy games, the replacements are being replaced."
According to the Washington Post, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement, “Our officials will be back on the field starting [Thursday] night. We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement.”
The eight-year collective bargaining agreement must be ratified by members of the NFLRA. The ratification process will begin Friday when the 121 officials meet in Dallas to review the proposed agreement. In the meantime, Goodell and the NFL temporarily lifted the lockout prior to the ratification vote allowing for regular officials to referee the Ravens-Browns game in Baltimore Thursday evening.
Ratification of the agreement is expected to happen quickly, which will allow "for 13 crews to fly to their assigned games for Sunday."
Terms in the agreement include continued funding of a pension plan for five years. The pension plan will become a 401K benefit plan after five years. Seven new officials will be hired and their pay will come out of NFL coffers.
ESPN states that the compensation package indicates that "officials will average $149,000 a year in 2012, $173,000 in 2013 and $205,000 in 2019."
According to the NFL, Commissioner Goodell said, "The long-term future of our game requires that we seek improvement in every area, including officiating. This agreement supports long-term reforms that will make officiating better. The teams, players and fans want and deserve both consistency and quality in officiating."