ESPN – The NFL and the NFL Referees Association reached a tentative agreement late Wednesday night on an eight-year collective bargaining agreement that will end the referee lockout, both sides confirmed. The two sides are looking at text and expect to sign the deal by Thursday morning, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.  There will be a regular referee union crew in Baltimore for Thursday night’s Ravens-Browns game. ”Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a joint statment released by the NFL and NFLRA. “We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement.” The NFLRA says its 121 referees have been trained on the new rules implemented last season, have already passed physicals or are prepared to pass physicals immediately. ”Our Board of Directors has unanimously approved taking this proposed CBA to the membership for a ratification vote,” NFLRA president Scott Green said in the joint statement. “We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games.” New official game uniforms designed by Nike are “hardly an obstacle,” a source told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen.

Tomorrow night will be the first time in sports history referees are going to get a standing ovation. They’re gonna be treated like soldiers returning home from war. We’re gonna roll out the red carpet and praise them. Promise to never take them or their service for granted ever again.

And like 5 minutes later they’re gonna botch a call, everyone will curse at their television, yell about how the refs suck, and all will be right with the world. The Replacement Ref Era was like the first time you had sex – it was short, confusing, nobody knew what the hell they were doing, one side always got fucked but nobody left satisfied, and goddam it was fun.