GREEN BAY - It's taken nearly three months; questionable pre-season game calling and three NFL regular season weeks of officiating woes, but the NFL and NFLRA have reached an eight-year agreement.
The announcement came early Thursday morning in New York.
"I think there was pressure, on all of us, to get an agreement from the get-go," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a press conference Thursday. "I don't think anybody wanted to go into using replacement officials."
But Packers fans like Dave Jaloszynski of Cedar Grove aren't buying the party line.
The agreement comes three months too late.
"I don't believe that for a minute," said Jaloszynski, while eating lunch at Stadium View Bar & Grille in Ashwaubenon Thursday afternoon. "This is definitely the impetus to get it done. Goodell and the owners can't afford for the fans to be upset."
Jaloszynski says it shouldn't have taken until the start of week four for the NFL owners and the referees union to come to a deal.
"If (the NFL and owners) are going to stand your ground against the referees union – you should have had a better contingency plan than high school basketball referees," said Jaloszynski, jokingly razzing the qualifications of the replacement referees.
The NFL had been using replacement refs to officiate games; many of whom hail from the lower tiers of the NCAA, Arena League football and retired college officials.
The deal comes three days after a controversial call by the replacement refs in the waning seconds of the Seattle Seahawks – Green Bay Packers game, giving Seattle the win.
"A black mark," said Packers fan Jim Zahn of Rosendale. "We're not going to forget about it."
Zahn says he was so upset with the replacement refs' officiating – especially after Monday night's game – he jokingly posted on Facebook Tuesday night that he wasn't to watch or go to another game.
"I wasn't going to watch another NFL game – even the Packers. So apparently I got some pull," quipped Zahn, knowing full well the power of the NFL.
"(Fans are) still going to go tailgating, still going to watch it on TV. "It's just too big of an industry for everybody to do that."
But could fans have had a hand in forcing the NFL's hand, by protesting games or not watching them on television?
Kevin Quinn, a St. Norbert College economics professor who specializes in sports economics, says that wouldn't be possible.
"I really don't think there's anything that the fans can do, other than make a statement. It's not going to hurt (the NFL) in the pocketbook – not for this year," said Quinn. "You know those TV contracts are negotiated for years."
Happy the zebras are back
When asked if he would be cheering for the regular referees' return on Sunday – Jaloszynski said he's not waiting.
"I'm actually going to cheer them tonight!" said Jaloszynski about the Thursday night game between Cleveland and Baltimore.
Firefighters are battling a house fire in Kewaunee County.
Wind, snow, cold and ice played a role as firefighters battled a fire in downtown Ripon Wednesday morning.
Outagamie County's second largest employer is expanding, and veterans are encouraged to apply.
The State Building Commission has approved $5 million to help build the Wisconsin Maritime Center of Excellence in Marinette.
Fond du Lac police have released more information about the weapons they found in the apartment of a man who was at the center of a five-hour standoff on Monday.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is announcing a public meeting has been scheduled to provide road closure and design information for the Velp Avenue interchange area.