The NFL's regular referees will be back at work starting Thursday night.
After two days of marathon negotiations and mounting frustration among coaches, players and fans, the NFL and the union for locked out referees have reached a tentative agreement following three tumultuous weeks that included several blown calls by replacement officials.
Although the contract must still be ratified by the union's 121 members, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced the officials will be back on the field beginning with tonight's (Thursday, Sept. 27) game between the Ravens and Browns.
"The long-term future of our game requires that we seek improvement in every area, including officiating," Goodell said in a statement released by the league. "This agreement supports long-term reforms that will make officiating better. The teams, players and fans want and deserve both consistency and quality in officiating.
"We look forward to having the finest officials in sports back on the field, and I want to give a special thanks to NFL fans for their passion. Now it's time to put the focus back on the teams and players where it belongs."
Officials will vote on the agreement Friday and Saturday in Dallas, and a clinic for them will be held after the vote.
The contract ends a three-month lockout that led to replacement officials. Negotiations really began to heat up after a missed call cost the Packers a win on a Hail Mary pass in Seattle on Monday night.