The NFL's game officials on Saturday overwhelmingly approved a new eight-year contract that was initially agreed upon Wednesday night. The officials voted 112-5 in favor of the deal, officially ending the lockout that led to the league using replacement officials for the first three weeks of the season.
The officials met for nearly an hour and a half Friday night to review the contract, and then gathered for 30 minutes Saturday morning before approving the deal in Irving, Texas.
"It was pretty much 'Come on in and vote,'" said Scott Green, president of the referees' association. "We're going to talk football now. We're going to stop talking about CBAs and lockouts and now we're going to talk about rules and video and getting ourselves ready to work football games."
By late Wednesday, the league and the officials' union had agreed to a deal that will increase the average salary from $149,000 a year in 2011 to $205,000 by 2019, the final year of the deal. The defined benefit pension plan will remain in effect for current officials through 2016 or until the official earns 20 years of service. The defined benefit plan will then be frozen and replaced by a 401k program.
Another part of the CBA allows the NFL to retain additional officials for training and development and assign those officials to work games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the league.
Negotiations aimed at a new contract accelerated after Monday night's controversial call on the final play of the Packers-Seahawks game, in which the Seahawks were awarded the game-winning touchdowns on a pass to wide receiver Golden Tate. Replays showed that Tate committed offensive pass interference on the play, and that Packers safety M.D. Jennings actually intercepted the ball.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.