The NFL and the NFL Referees Association agreed this morning to the terms of a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement that will return the game officials to the field for this weekend's games, beginning with Thursday night's Cleveland at Baltimore game.
The agreement, the longest with the game officials in NFL history, was reached in New York between the negotiating teams for the NFL and the NFLRA with the assistance of Scot Beckenbaugh and Peter Donatello of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The agreement must be ratified by the NFLRA membership. Under the commissioner's authority, Commissioner Goodell can enter into this agreement without a vote of the NFL clubs.
Commissioner Goodell temporarily lifted the lockout so that the officials can work Thursday night's Cleveland at Baltimore game prior to their ratification vote. The officials will meet Friday and Saturday to vote on the agreement. If it is approved, a clinic for the officials will be held following the vote.
"The long-term future of our game requires that we seek improvement in every area, including officiating," Commissioner Goodell said. "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."
"We look forward to having the finest officials in sports back on the field, and I want to give a special thanks to NFL fans for their passion. Now it's time to put the focus back on the teams and players where it belongs."