NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is apologizing to fans for having to use replacement referees during a lockout of the regular officials. The three-month impasse led to three weeks of controversial officiating — culminating with a questionable call that cost the Green Bay Packers a victory Monday night.
Goodell apologized Thursday during a conference call about 12 hours after the two sides came to an agreement. The referees' union and league finally shook hands on a tentative eight-year deal that will allow the regular refs to return beginning Thursday night with the Baltimore Ravens-Cleveland Browns game.
"Something like this, it's painful for everybody," said Goodell. "Most importantly, it's painful for fans. We're sorry to have to put fans through that."
The use of replacement refs during the lockout was a public relations disaster for the NFL that saw multiple games affected over the first three weeks of the regular season.
A deal was finally struck after the Seattle Seahawks debatable last-second win over the Packers Monday night in which the replacement referees missed a call.