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[Check the bottom of this post for the latest updates.]

The NFL and the NFL Referees Association have reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement that now begins the process of getting the union officials back on the field.

Look who’s back! Referee Ed Hochuli and his 120 colleagues will return to the field now that a collective bargaining agreement has been reached.

Commissioner Roger Goodell lifted the lockout with the tentative agreement, allowing tonight’s game to be officiated by regular referees. We will post the crew assigned to tonight’s game when it is announced.

There is no word on how the crews will be composed, but based on the lack of contact between the NFL and its referees since the Super Bowl, there will likely be little change from last year.

The new collective bargaining agreement is in effect through the 2019 season.

The NFL locked out their officials on June 3 when the league believed that the union was planning to go on strike. Since then, all of the 2012 preseason and the first three games of the regular season were officiated by replacement officials, a group largely consisting of lower-tier college officials and others who generally lacked the qualifications to be hired to the NFL under normal circumstances.

Monday night’s game was widely criticized because of the result of the final play, in which an apparent victory for the Packers was instead given to the Seahawks.

In addition to compensation, the issues included pension, creation of full-time official positions, and the increase in the number of officiating crews.

  • The major issue was the pension plan, which will be retained through 2016, or for each official, when they reach 20 years of service. At that point, the pensions will be frozen.
  • A 401(k) retirement plan will take effect for new hires immediately and for current officials in 2017.
  • The union agreed to allow new officials to be hired in apprenticeship roles. During negotiations, this number was reported at 21 new officials, but apparently the final deal has an unlimited number. These apprentices will be shadowing various crews to be mentored by the seasoned veterans. The new officials will not reduce the compensation pool of the existing officials. That plan will begin as early as the 2013 season.
  • The average compensation will increase from last year’s average of $149,000 to $173,000 in 2013, then to $205,000 by 2019.

Live updates will be provided below.

Sat • 12:38 pm EDT • Ben Austro



The union ratified on a vote of 112-5. All the officials are headed to their Sunday game sites right now.


Fri • 11:23 pm EDT • Ben Austro


Reporter Ted Madden of WFAA in Dallas-Fort Worth was set to cover today’s press conference that, apparently, is not happening.

We just got stood up by the referees after waiting patiently for their 7:00 briefing. I’ve just become a lot less sympathetic to their side.

On the bright side, Ted tweeted a picture of the new referee hats.


Fri • 4:49 pm EDT • Ben Austro


Tomorrow morning, NFL officials will meet to review rule changes and points of emphasis. From there, they will fly to their Sunday game site.


Fri • 4:43 pm EDT • Ben Austro


News conference scheduled for 7:00 p.m. (CT) with Jeff Triplette. NFLRA meeting begins at 7:30 for ratification of deal.


Thu • 5:24 pm EDT • Ben Austro


Confirmed via Adam Schefter: Mike Carey is your referee for Seahawks-Rams.


Thu • 5:05 pm EDT • Ben Austro


As part of the CBA deal, pensions are frozen when official has 20 years seniority or 2016, whichever comes first. That means, as of today, 15 officials had their pensions frozen.


Thu • 4:04 pm EDT • Ben Austro


We have confirmed that Jeff Triplette will be in Green Bay for the Packers-Saints game.

Walt Coleman is your referee for Panthers-Falcons.


Thu • 3:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro


Lance Easley, the side judge who ruled touchdown on the Fail Mary play and accelerated the CBA talks, told TMZ he ruled simultaneous possession, because:

You have to not only have the ball but have either 2 feet or a body part on the ground, and that never happened.

Except …. no:

It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control.

Nothing about feet, although that is part of the “process of the catch,” but not who “gains control first.”


Thu • 3:09 pm EDT • Ben Austro


In a nod to how serious they take their jobs, we have reached out to several officials for comments on the tentative agreement. The responses so far indicate they consider themselves “in season,” and thus they are prohibited from contacting the media.

Welcome back!


Thu • 10:53 am EDT • Ben Austro


Tonight’s officials, I can proudly announce, are:

  • R — Gene Steratore
  • U — Bill Schuster
  • HL — Wayne Mackie
  • LJ — Jeff Seeman
  • FJ — Bob Waggoner
  • SJ — Jimmy DeBell
  • BJ — Greg Steed

Thu • 10:43 am EDT • Ben Austro


Referee Terry McAuley tweeted the following:

We’re back to work. Very excited to help, in our own way, bring the focus back to the game where it belongs!


Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)