NFL, Referees Reach Labor Agreement to End Lockout

Judy Battista, reporting for The New York Times:

The National Football League reached agreement on an eight-year labor deal with its game officials late Wednesday night, ending a lockout that forced unprepared replacement officials onto the field, creating three weeks of botched calls, acute criticism, furious coaches and players, and a blemish — however temporary — on the integrity of the country’s most popular sport.

The agreement, which was being put in writing late Wednesday night, came 48 hours after the nadir of the league’s experiment with replacement officials, when an incorrect call on the final play of the Monday night game cost the Green Bay Packers a victory against the Seattle Seahawks.

That nationally televised debacle spurred two days of furious and lengthy negotiations against the backdrop of immense public pressure and scorn, most of it directed at the league. Both sides were so determined to play no more games with replacements that they raced Wednesday night to get officials in place to work this week’s slate of games.

Great to hear. After Monday’s disaster, a peace accord was too important not to reach.