NFL Referee Lockout is finally over; Who won?

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Sep 11, 2011; Jacksonville, FL, USA; NFL referee Mike Carey (94) holds his hat over his heart during the national anthem before a game between the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Fernando Medina-US PRESSWIRE

After nearly three unnecessarily long months of off and on negotiating, the NFL and NFLRA have agreed to a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement.

The deal must still be ratified by 51 percent of the 121 members of the NFLRA on Friday and Saturday, but the referees will be working the Thursday night Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns game.

Both sides were stuck for months because they could not decide how to handle the referees pensions and retirement benefits.

The officials pay will increase from their 2011 salary of $149,000 to $173,000 in 2013, to $205,000 by 2019.

The officials will be keeping their current pension plan through the 2016 season and the NFL has the option of hiring a number of referees full-time beginning with the 2013 season.