BOSTON (CBS) – The NFL and NFL Referee Association came to an agreement early Thursday morning, and the regular referees will be back on the field for Thursday night’s Ravens-Browns game.
NFL.com’s Albert Breer told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 things will finally be back to normal in the league.
But while nearly all fans begged for the regular officials to return, don’t expect the ovations and cheers to last all that long.
“I think the fans will forget pretty quickly when one of the officials makes a call that goes against their team,” joked Breer.
“Obviously I think there will be a lot of things right away we’ll be able to see that will signal how significant this is for the game. The pace of game should be quicker, decisions will be made at a faster pace, and we’ll see players – especially down the field – getting away with less. I know talking to players there’s been a ‘wild west’ mentality that emerged as players started to figure out what they could get away with because the replacements couldn’t keep up with the game.”
Bert Breer With WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Matt Ledin:
“It’s just a return to normalcy,” said Breer.
“The normalcy in this case is fans are always going criticize officials when calls don’t go the way of their team, and I think you’ll see that when they settle in. Maybe short-term, they’ll give them a break, but I don’t see that lasting very long.”
The league and officials had been negotiating over the weekend, but once the Monday Night Football debacle happened in Seattle, things really got going.
“The league will tell you they were willing to take the short-term hits for the long-term gains for better officiating going forward. But that was a massively embarrassing situation for the league,” Breer said of Monday night’s mess.
“I think all you need to look at is the hours they spent working on all this. You go back to Saturday and Sunday; they spent eight hours on Saturday and eight hours on Sunday. Then they negotiated by phone on Monday. Suddenly on Tuesday they were at the negotiating table for 17 hours, and then yesterday going into this morning they negotiated for 15 hours. That’s 32 hours in two days. I don’t think there was any question that a big part of that is what happened Monday night.”
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Both sides made compromises to get this deal done.
While the officials will eventually switch over to a 401k, which is what the NFL wanted all along, the veterans refs will get to keep their pension plan for the next five years.
There will also be a developmental program that will train younger officials and add more depth to the NFL’s officiating crop.
“All in all, you look at the deal and you can see compromise on both sides,” said Breer.
“The only question is why didn’t it get done earlier?”