The NFL apparently didn't want to give replacement refs a chance to ruin one more game. The league reached a deal tonight with the regular refs to end their walkout, reports NFL.com. A crew will be in place for Thursday night's game between the Ravens and Browns, ahead of formal approval of the contract Friday, reports AP and NBC's ProFootballTalk blog. All of Sunday's games will have regular refs.
A few details emerging:
- The league and the union agreed to create a 21-member "developmental program" for up-and-coming refs, who will be mentored by the regular officials. As these developmental refs improve, they will eventually get to work in real games and be considered for membership in the refs' union, which now stands at 121 members.
- The current pension plan will remain in place for five years, then be replaced by a 401k-style system.
- Refs will get a 4% raise.