NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized to the fans who fretted through three weeks of replacement officials calling their favorite teams' games.
"Obviously when you go through something like this, it's painful for everybody. Most importantly, it's painful for fans," he said on a conference call Thursday, about 12 hours after the league reached a deal to bring back the regular officials. "We're sorry to have to put fans through that. Sometimes you have to go through something like that in the short term for the right agreement for the long term."
Two days after a missed call on the final play cost the Green Bay Packers in their "Monday Night Football" loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the NFL and the officials' union announced a tentative eight-year agreement to end a lockout that began in June. The regular officials will return for Thursday night's Browns-Ravens game.