Updated with officiating crew being named
The Browns’ game tonight against the Baltimore Ravens will mark the return of regular officials and the exit of their replacements.
In a joint statement, the NFL and NFL Referees Association announced that they have reached an agreement on an eight-year collective bargaining agreement.
"Our officials will be back on the field starting [Thursday] night," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in the statment. "We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement."
Gene Steratore, who’s beginning his 10th season in the NFL and attended Kent State University, will serve as the referee, the league announced. The rest of the seven-man officiating crew is comprised of umpire Bill Schuster, head linesman Wayne Mackie, line judge Jeff Seeman, field judge Bob Waggoner, side judge Jimmy De Bell and back judge Greg Steed. Larry Nemmers is the replay official and Ken Dollar is the replay assistant.
"Our Board of Directors has unanimously approved taking this proposed CBA to the membership for a ratification vote,” NFLRA President Scott Green said. “We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games."
Even though the NFLRA still must ratify the new CBA, Goodell temporarily lifted the lockout so regular officials can work the Browns’ game against the Ravens before they meet Friday and Saturday to vote on the agreement.
“The long-term future of our game requires that we seek improvement in every area, including officiating,” Goodell said. “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.”
The league locked out the regular officials after their contract expired in June. The experiment with their replacements reached a boiling point this week on Monday night, when the Seattle Seahawks were credited with a win over the Green Bay Packers after a controversial call on a Hail Mary pass. Players throughout the league were outraged, and the Browns were no exception.
The NFL Players Association released the following statement: “Our workplace is safer with the return of our professional referees. We welcome our fellow Union members back on our field.”