Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

NFL, Referees end lockout effective immediately

Of course, replacement refs sticking around for Thursday Night Football would at least let everybody who doesn't have expanded cable off the hook.

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4 Total Updates since September 26, 2012
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NFL referees end lockout in time for Ravens-Browns

Have no fear, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens fans with expanded cable packages: The NFL referee lockout is over, ending months of replacement referee madness just in time for Thursday Night Football. The news first broke Wednesday, when Twitter exploded with rumors about the impending end of a lockout that had seemed impenetrable just the day before.

Twitter good samaritans did their best to throw cold water on rumors that rapidly overheated, but it turns out that the original mystery sources were right: The NFL and referees were within hours of agreeing to an eight-year deal that gradually ramps up salary and transitions to a defined-contribution pension plan.

Now, phase two of the NFL referee lockout saga begins—get ready, Browns and Ravens fans, to hyperfocus on every single mistake the even-wealthier union referees make. Revisionist columnists with an eye for pageviews are no doubt already writing ledes for their stories about how we overemphasized the replacement referees' mistakes and romanticized our past with Ed Hochuli and company. The first botched pass interference call, the first missed fumble—it's going to be a media feeding frenzy.

But at least it probably won't come as early as it would have last Thursday.

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NFL, referees approach lockout breakthrough

The NFL and their locked-out referees looked hopelessly at loggerheads as Week 4 loomed, even after the lockout-generated replacement referees ruined Monday Night Football for the Packers, in possession of a fanbase that the NFL would hate to alienate. Late Wednesday night, though, rumors began to spread that the NFL and the referees were on the verge of ending the lockout and returning in time for Thursday Night Football. (Which would seem almost a little inappropriate, since nobody cares about Thursday Night Football.)

Later, as you might expect, more sources came forward to throw the requisite cold water over the rumored negotiations. But it appears that at least something has changed, which gives NFL fans hope that, by this Sunday, they'll be able to worry more about the referees screwing their individual team and less about the referees screwing everybody over.

Which is the whole point of complaining about the referees, and maybe why this has met such universal fan hate: There's no fun in believing the referees aren't terrible if it doesn't involve a conspiracy theory about your team being marked for special distaste.

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Replacement refs are out of a job (again!)

Take a good, long look, because it's the last time you're going to see these (awful calls.)

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Packers Refs Ruined Rams-Redskins, Too

Was Monday's incompetence oddly familiar to you?

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