UPDATED: Regular referees are back and will officiate games this week including Thursday Night Football. Click HERE for more information.
There are numerous reports the NFL and the NFL Referees Association are nearing a deal in their negotiations that could bring back the refs for this Sunday’s contest between the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets. During negotiations on Tuesday night an agreement in principle was reached between the league and referees. There are still some issues they need to work out, but if everything can be hashed over the next few days, the refs could return for all games this weekend.
After the fiasco on Monday Night Football between the Seahawks and Packers, it seems that both sides reached a tipping point. Still, there are some reports saying a deal is not close and the news of an agreement was a negotiation ploy by one side to put pressure on the other side to end the lockout. If an agreement is reached this week the NFL Referees Association said all of its 121 refs are trained on the new rules put in place this season, are in shape and have passed physicals. I would take the real refs over the replacement refs if they were all 20 pounds overweight and out of shape. Anything is better than seeing the replacement refs on the field trying to judge a game that goes way too fast for them to make calls.
Surely the heat is on the NFL and the NFL Referees Association to come to an agreement because coaches, players and fans are disgusted with all aspects of the replacement refs. It is time for both sides to comprise more than they were willing before in order to keep the integrity of the game and to protect players on the field.
With the possibility of an agreement between both sides coming soon, many Niner players celebrated the news. Here are two comments from Donte Whitner and Mario Manningham:
Safety Donte Whitner:
If it gets done, it’s a great thing. In the last three weeks, there’ve been mistakes and bad calls. … We all just want to go out there and have a fair game. (Defensive backs are) getting away with things you don’t normally see. You know you could get away with a little more. With those officials coming back, you have to play your ‘A’ game.
Mario Manningham said of the officiating through three games:
We all see what’s going on and we want ‘em back.