The NFL and the NFL Referees Association have reached an eight-year collective bargaining agreement that will end the lockout. During the deal, NFL official salaries will go from $149,000 in 2011 to $205,000 by 2019. Roger Goodell has said that the union referees will be on the field on Thursday night for the Browns and the Ravens game.
The NFLRA has said that they have 121 referees that have been trained and taught the new rules implemented from last season and have already passed the necessary physicals. One thing that may not be ready are their black and white striped 'Foot Locker' uniforms that some call them. Nike is the new sponsor of all NFL jerseys, apparel and merchandise; even the guys with the whistles around their necks. Some may not be able to have their customized referee uniforms by Sunday, but that is the last thing on the mind of the players.
Some technicalities are still being worked out, like the clear definitions of holding and pass intereference, but the union referees will be able to keep up with the pace of the game and also keep it moving. Another thing worth noting is that these regular officials will be able to keep teams under control during scuffles and post whistle arguments. Some started to call the NFL the WWE after the amount of fights and disagreements in seemingly every game.
They may not get every call right, or even the majority, but the game will be called how it has been for years, by the best human element we have, the regular officials. Fans may still gripe and complain from time to time, or every other play, but the control of the game, and the consistency of the calls is something that was truly missed these first three weeks of the NFL season.