NFL reaches tentative deal with referees

Looks like the hugely controversial ending to Monday night’s football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers really was the tipping point. The NFL and the referees’ union announced at midnight Thursday that a tentative deal had been reached to end the lockout that began in June and led to replacement refs officiating games in the first three weeks of the regular season to growing outrage from players, coaches and fans. The new deal, reached after two days of marathon negotiations, means the regular refs will be back on the field starting with tonight’s game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens. The tentative eight-year deal is the longest involving on-field officials in NFL history and was reached with the help of two federal mediators.  Meanwhile, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was fined $50,000 for trying to grab an official’s arm Sunday to ask for an explanation of a call after his team lost to Baltimore, and Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was fined $25,000 for abuse of officials in his team’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.