NFL referees say they are ready for Thursday night game
The National Football League's regular referees will return to the field Thursday night after reaching a tentative labor deal that kicked replacement officials to the curb, ending a major source of frustration and embarrassment for fans, players and the league.
In place of the replacement referees, most of whom had officiated no more than a handful of pro games, the league put together a veteran crew with a combined 70 seasons of NFL experience to handle Thursday night's game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens, the first since league owners lifted the lockout Wednesday night.
While they have not called a game since last season, the league's veteran crews will be ready to go, said retired official Mason "Red" Cashion.
"These guys have been working every week, really since May, to get ready for the season, through conference calls, through video, through meetings of their own," Cashion said. "And that's something that the officials have done simply because they have enough pride in what they do that they wanted to be ready. And they are ready."