Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Our long national sports nightmare of NFL replacement officials may be coming to an end as early as this weekend, according to ESPN.com.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, citing sources on both sides of the collective bargaining dispute, the NFL and the NFL Referees Association have “made enough progress in negotiations that the possibility of the locked-out officials returning in time to work this week’s games has been discussed.”
The NFL Referees Association said all of its 121 refs are ready, have passed physicals, and are up to date on rules changes from last year, ESPN.com reported.
The NFL has been humiliated for the better part of this week after embarrassing actions by replacement officials impacted games last weekend. In Dallas, an official tossed his hat onto the field and caused a player to trip while in the end zone last Sunday.
But the likely spark to getting a new deal done came Monday night in Seattle. The Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers on a horrible call in the end zone of a touchdown when the defender had control of the ball as he hit the ground.
The Packers were livid and the normally tepid ESPN even had pundits explode in rage at the replacement refs’ decision. The NFL said the decision on the game was final, but it’s kept the league in the headlines all week for an issue that has put a black-eye on the young NFL season.
The remaining hurdle both sides have to agree upon, according to multiple reports, is a pension plan for the referees. But, according to the ESPN report, “both sides have made concessions on previous sticking points” and the last hurdle is “about a little money.”