Late Wednesday night, the NFL and NFL Referees Association agreed to terms on a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement that will return the officials to the field for Week 4 games.
“The long-term future of our game requires that we seek improvement in every area, including officiating,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “This agreement supports long-term reforms that will make officiating better. The teams, players and fans want and deserve both consistency and quality in officiating.
“We look forward to having the finest officials in sports back on the field, and I want to give a special thanks to NFL fans for their passion. Now it’s time to put the focus back on the teams and players where it belongs.”
The new deal runs through the 2019 season and is the longest with game officials in NFL history.
The league announced the following crew for Denver’s game vs. Oakland on Sunday: Referee Pete Morelli, Umpire Darrell Jenkins, Head Linesman Dana Mckenzie, Line Judge John Hussey, Field Judge Jon Lucivansky, Side Judge Don Carlsen and Back Judge Rob Vernatchi.
Fourteenth-year cornerback Champ Bailey said he’s most looking forward to being able to resume the type of communication that he has grown accustomed to with the veteran officiating crews.
Bailey usually talks to the officials throughout the game and said that open interaction was harder to establish with the replacements.
“I would talk to (the regular officials) before the game, or during the game,” Bailey said. “Most of them I know their names.”
He pointed to the penalty that was called against him last week as an example of something that might not have been called with the experience of the veteran officials.
“I look at the (illegal contact) I got last week – a regular ref probably wouldn’t call that,” he said. “It’s a stand-your-ground rule. If I stand my ground, you can’t run in to me and expect to get a call.”
Head Coach John Fox agrees that getting the regulars back on the field will help the in-game experience for everyone involved.
“I think it’s great for the fans,” Head Coach John Fox said. “I know it’s great for the coaches. I know it’s great for the players. The league worked very hard to make that happen and we’re happy it’s back to life as normal.”