After all the griping about the replacement officials, the NFL and NFL Referees Association are coming to an agreement on a new labor deal, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter via ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
As @mortreport is reporting, an agreement between NFL and NFLRA is at hand and both sides will work to have officials working this weekend.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 26, 2012
UPDATE: Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 11:05 p.m. ET by Ryan Rudnansky
Pro Football Talk reported on Wednesday that NBC officiating consultant Jim Daopoulos said a deal had been signed between the NFL and the NFLRA.
Pro Football Talk tweeted:
NBC officiating consultant Jim Daopoulos tells PFT that a deal has been signed between NFL and NFLRA.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 27, 2012
Of course, six minutes later, Albert Breer of NFL Network reported that the deal had not been signed yet.
One source on where things stand ... "Could be an hour, could be a day" until it's actually all the way done. But it's getting done, folks.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 27, 2012
Last but not least, Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted four minutes later that he got a text from someone in the negotiating room, claiming the report of the signing was "categorically untrue."
Text from someone in room about deal between NFL and NFLRA being signed: "Categorically untrue." Everyone hopes it's true soon enough.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 27, 2012
"Categorically untrue." Whatever that means. Sometimes it seems as if we are living in another dimension, folks.
--- End of Update ---
UPDATE: Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 10:32 p.m. ET by Ryan Rudnansky
As NFL Nation awaits in anticipation, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reports that a deal is "imminent" between the NFL and the NFLRA.
La Canfora tweeted on Wednesday night:
Deal between the NFL and locked out officials is imminent and would include language allowing regular refs to work Thursday night game— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 27, 2012
--- End of Update ---
UPDATE: Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 9:55 p.m. ET by Ryan Rudnansky
According to "a source familiar with negotiations," the NFL and the NFLRA are on the verge of a deal, via Bob Glauber of Newsday.
Glauber tweeted on Wednesday:
Source familiar with negotiations between NFL & locked out officials: "Very close. I mean, really close." Trying to get deal done tonight.— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) September 27, 2012
--- End of Update ---
UPDATE: Wednesday, September 26 at 3:20 p.m. ET by Adam Wells
As we await confirmation of a deal, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that NFL spokesman Greg Aiello has said "there is no such thing as close.”
Florio's report also states that "NFLRA president Scott Green emailed the rank-and-file from the meeting room with the explanation that a deal has not been struck."
At most we know that the two sides are engaged in discussions. What we don't know is what it all means. We have various reports about deals in the works and nothing being official.
Hopefully we get some clear resolution soon, otherwise we are guaranteed to be stuck with the replacements for at least one more week.
---END OF UPDATE---
UPDATE: Wednesday, September 26 at 1:30 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
In the words of Lee Corso, not so fast, my friends! Peter King of Sports Illustatrated has tweeted that a deal may not be as close to being done as has been reported:
I'm hearing NFLRA negotiator Scott Green has notified officials that a deal is not imminent. Stay tuned, obviously.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) September 26, 2012
And just when I was getting excited, literally the first time I've ever been happy about anything involving officials, umpires or linesmen. Here's to hoping this is resolved soon.
---End of Update---
Don't go celebrating quite yet, as Albert Breer of the NFL Network spoke to a source who told him that there is no deal finalized at this moment.
Asked NFLRA source about idea that deal is done -- "Absolutely false" ... But they're getting closer, have made plenty of progress.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 26, 2012
Before the season started, no one knew exactly what to expect from the replacement referees. On some level, everyone expected some drop in the quality of the performance because that is what usually happens when someone is asked to take on a more challenging assignment.
But after the games started, you could tell that these officials were in over their heads. They weren't used to the speed of the game, had little understanding of the NFL rules and seemed too timid to make the right calls.
To be fair to the replacement refs, they were thrown into an unenviable situation with little time to prepare and were basically learning on the job. They came from the lower levels of college football and lingerie football.
That said, anyone who had even the slightest knowledge of the NFL could tell that this wasn't working.
The entire saga reached its tipping point last Monday night during the Packers vs. Seahawks contest. Since then, the entire NFL landscape has been thrown for a loop, as fans and analysts are repudiating the replacement referees for their handling of the controversial Golden Tate Hail Mary touchdown reception.
Even though referees have a thankless job, we do have a whole new appreciation for the job they do. The real referees may not always make calls that we like or agree with, but at least they know the rules and regulations of the NFL well enough to make the correct call more often than not.
The league needed to get this deal done. Even more than the replacement referees, the NFL was taking a beating from some of its own players because of the referee lockout.
There was no reason not to get the deal done, other than stubbornness from both sides.
Now that a deal is being reached, we can put this behind us, and the NFL can get back to some semblance of normalcy.