Sports
              An official gestures as Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields (37), safety Jerron McMillian (22) and Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) leave the field in the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, in Seattle. After a period of confusion, a Seahawks touchdown by wide receiver Golden Tate was allowed to stand for the 14-12 win. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
              An official gestures as Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields (37), safety Jerron McMillian (22) and Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) leave the field in the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, in Seattle. After a period of confusion, a Seahawks touchdown by wide receiver Golden Tate was allowed to stand for the 14-12 win. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)   

Hallelujah! Real referees are back

The NFL and National Football League Referees Association, have finally reached an agreement, which probably means the end of lingerie-league rejects making boneheaded calls in stadium end zones.

Around midnight Thursday morning, after days of long and heated negotiations, word reached reporters that NFL-trained referees will be back on the field in time for Thursday night’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL agreed to hike referees’ annual compensation from $149,000 to $173,000. The new package will also reportedly include better benefits and 401(k) plans.

Replacement referees have become an extended American pop culture punchline, extending past the football field and into politics. President Barack Obama and his Republican challengers Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have all made public comments urging the NFL to figure out a way to get the better-equipped officials back on the field.

The controversial outcome of Monday night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks may have been the ultimate catalyst for the settlement, but neither side of the bargaining table mentioned a specific reason for common sense prevailing. ESPN reported that the referees’ union president Scott Green said, “We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games.”

Fans will be glad too — at least until the first time one of the old-guard zebras makes a call they don’t like.

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