After three weeks of replacement referees calling NFL games and the controversial decisions and reaction due to their inexperience, the regular officials are set to return to the field as the NFL and the referees' union struck a deal late Wednesday night.
The experienced referees will be officiating Thursday night's game involving the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
"We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week's games," NFL Referees Association president Scott Green said.
The replacement officials had been criticized for the entire 2012 season, and Roger Goodell and the owners were essentially forced to bring back the refs, after the controversy in the Packers-Seahawks game.
When Green Bay lost on a touchdown pass that should have been ruled an interception, a number of Packers players voiced their frustrations on Twitter. Now, those same players are responding to the news that the league and refs have struck a deal.
“Good to see the regular refs coming back!” said T.J. Lang. “I'm sure the scabs are disappointed they have to return to their jobs at footlocker.” The Packers offensive lineman was extremely vocal on Monday night, using multiple expletives in his tweets.
“Woke up to find out the new refs are back! I've never been excited about refs before I think I might give the first one I see a bear hug haha,” tweeted Ravens wide out Torrey Smith. Baltimore lost to Philadelphia in Week 2, partially due to a phantom offensive pass interference call in the fourth quarter.
Entering Week Four, the referees have become the biggest story of the season. Some players are just glad that the actual games will now take the forefront.
“Great news about the Refs being back,” tweeted Bills receiver David Nelson. “Now the focus can go back to being about the Coaches and Players.”
While most players haven’t had many good things to say about the replacement referees, some haven’t been as hard on the officials.
“Welcome back REFS glad y'all was able to get a deal done but thanks to replacements refs 4 trying their best given da circumstances,” tweeted Bills running back C.J. Spiller.
Less than 24 hours after the two sides agreed on a deal, the real refs will be back on the field. According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, referee Gene Steratore, umpire Bill Schuster and head linesman Wayne Mackie will work the Ravens-Browns game.