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NFL’s Real Refs Return

NFL, referees reach agreement — and it only took one really bad call

The rest of the NFL owes a big thank you to the Green Bay Packers for their sacrifice: the league's referees are returning with an eight-year contract, and it only took one egregiously bad call.

A decision that gave the Green Bay Packers a highly questionable loss to the Seattle Seahawks Monday put the pressure on the NFL to bring back its regular referees, who had been locked out this season in a dispute over collective bargaining.

Also read: Hail Mary, Full of Fail: Green Bay Packers Lose After Bad Call by Replacement Referees (Video)

Hired in their place were referees from colleges, arena football, and — as news outlets delighted in reporting — the Lingerie Football League.

But those dark days are behind us. And future games should be less painful to watch.

"Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement released early this morning, referring to tonight's game between The Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.

It's good news for a league that that was losing credibility with fans and players alike, even as football is more popular than ever. NBC's "Sunday Night Football" was the top-rated program of last season.