The NFL referee lockout is over. The NFL Referees Association and the the NFL have reached an agreement and signed a new deal. This news comes with a collective sigh of relief from football fans everywhere.

With the replacement referees at the helm, the first three weeks of NFL regular season games have been painful at best to watch due to the lack luster and seemingly ignorant officiating decisions. The culmination of this embarrassment to the NFL came at the catastrophic end to the Packers-Seahawks game on Monday night (Sept. 24) with the worst call in NFL history that cost the Packers the win.

The lockout began back in June when the NFL and the referees were unable to see eye to eye regarding the officials' retirement plans. NBC now reports that "the much-debated pension issue was resolved with the current defined-benefit plan remaining in place for five years before switching to a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan. Also, it’s believed that the deal will cover five more years before this one, which means that we’ll potentially be doing this again in 2018."

Roger Goodell said in a statement that regular NFL refs will take to the field this weekend. In fact, a crew is being assembled to work Thursday night’s game between the Browns and Ravens. Officials will travel to Dallas on Friday to retrieve their equipment and receive their game assignments for Sunday and Monday.

[NBC PFT]