IRVING, Texas -
NFL referees have voted and approved a new eight-year deal with the league. Now they all can get back to the business of calling games.
Referees approved the contract by a 112-5 vote Saturday morning, officially ending a lockout that led to a rising chorus of complaints from players, coaches, fans and politicians. The next stop for the refs who voted in Irving, Texas, was the airport, where most were to hop on planes taking them straight to their Sunday game sites.
The deal came quickly after three weeks of escalating difficulties for league-hired replacement refs, culminating in a disputed touchdown call that decided Monday night's Packers-Seahawks game. With a tentative deal in place, league referees returned to cheers at Thursday night's game between Cleveland and Baltimore.