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Real refs return to cheers

From Michael Pearson, CNN
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri September 28, 2012
Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears makes a reception for a first down against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, October 1, in Arlington, Texas. The Bears beat the Cowboys 34-18. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/20/football/gallery/nfl-week-3/index.html' target='_blank'>Look back at the best of NFL Week Three.</a> Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears makes a reception for a first down against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, October 1, in Arlington, Texas. The Bears beat the Cowboys 34-18. Look back at the best of NFL Week Three.
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NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
NFL Week 4: The best photos
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fans give officials standing ovation before Thursday game at Baltimore
  • There was no signature gaffe during Thursday's game
  • The NFL labor deal with referees locks in pay raises, protects pensions for five years

(CNN) -- The real referees were greeted with a standing ovation Thursday night as they returned to the field after a new contract was announced less than a day earlier.

It may be the last time fans will voice their opinion on the recent NFL lockout that brought replacement referees to the football field.

Thursday's 23 to 16 win by the Baltimore Ravens over the Cleveland Browns went on without much controversy, a far cry from the gaffe-filled display that punctuated the first three weeks of the professional football season.

For NFL officials, it's a side job that requires a lot of work

'Real' refs to return to NFL after deal
The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers 14-12 on Monday, September 24, after replacement officials, standing in for locked-out NFL regulars, gave possession of a disputed ball to Seattle receiver Golden Tate. Officials in the end zone gave competing signals: one indicating a touchdown, the other an interception. The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers 14-12 on Monday, September 24, after replacement officials, standing in for locked-out NFL regulars, gave possession of a disputed ball to Seattle receiver Golden Tate. Officials in the end zone gave competing signals: one indicating a touchdown, the other an interception.
Blown calls in sports history
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Photos: Blown calls in sports Photos: Blown calls in sports
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson throws the winning touchdown pass against the Green Bay Packers in Seattle on Monday night. The Seahawks defeated the Packers 14-12 after a much-questioned call by the referees. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson throws the winning touchdown pass against the Green Bay Packers in Seattle on Monday night. The Seahawks defeated the Packers 14-12 after a much-questioned call by the referees.
Controversial end to Seahawks-Packers game
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Photos: The Seahawks-Packers final play Photos: The Seahawks-Packers final play
Conan: NFL replacement ref highlights

Before Thursday's game NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he was sorry the league felt it had to resort to the replacements, few of whom had any previous NFL officiating experience. Many were high school or low-level college officials who hold down myriad other jobs, from schoolteachers to attorneys.

That ended Wednesday night when the NFL stuck a deal with officials.

The eight-year deal, which must be ratified by union members, includes details about officials' pensions and retirement benefits, and adds a pay bump from $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013. The pay will rise to $205,000 by 2019.

It suspended the lockout that began before the league's preseason, leading to a series of gaffes that climaxed in a furor over a botched call that allowed the Seattle Seahawks to walk away with a victory in Monday night's nationally televised game against Green Bay. The league acknowledged Tuesday that the Packers should have won, but allowed the result of the game to stand.

NFL chief apologizes about replacement refs

Goodell declined to criticize the replacements despite weeks of botched calls that raised the ire of fans nationwide.

"Everything they did, every call, was magnified," Goodell said. "They kept the game going. They worked hard. They trained hard. They were incredibly focused and dedicated."

Henry Zaborniak, a fill-in line judge who lives in Ohio, said it was a hard job.

"We worked as hard as we could and we did the best we could," said Zaborniak, who spent 15 years as a Big Ten official,. "None of us felt like we could replace the regular guys. You can't replace that sort of ability en masse."

What the refs were negotiating

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