It didn't come easily, but fortunately for the fans, the players, and the most popular league on the planet, the real referees are making their way back to the field.
A deal was rumored to be in place on Wednesday, but as we learned from the players' lockout, you can never be sure until the ink on the contract is dry. However, not only has a deal been reached, but a crew is being assembled to work Thursday Night Football in Baltimore when the Ravens host the Cleveland Browns.
Yes, it's quite clear that no one, and I mean no one, wanted to see the replacement referees work another game.
The new deal will lock in the officials until 2019. Some concessions were made on both sides, but the officials will see a favorable increase from the average of $173,000 in 2011, rising to $205,000 by 2019, among other perks.
All of the details still aren't clear, but it has been reported that the NFL will be able to hire some officials full-time, starting in 2013. The officials will vote to finalize the deal on Friday.
So, you can blame whomever you'd like for Monday night's debacle, but the important thing is this: "Hochules" and the professionals are back.
I asked Ed Hochuli how many curls he's been doing: "As soon as I heard the rumors today, I got down on the floor and started doing pushups."— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) September 27, 2012