NFL officials in Dallas to vote on new contract

IRVING, Texas -- NFL officials arrived Friday at a Dallas-area hotel to discuss and vote on an eight-year agreement reached with the league late Wednesday. They were meeting Friday night with a vote on the contact expected Saturday morning. Some planned to fly directly after the vote to their assigned cities for Sunday's game.

The deal must be ratified by 51 percent of the union's 121 members.

The officials were expected to meet the media at 7 p.m. but the news conference was canceled.

Some said they thought Monday night's Packers-Seahawks game, which ended in chaos after a call in the end zone gave the Seahawks the winning touchdown instead of a Packers interception, provided the final push toward a settlement.

Referee Ed Hochuli, who led weekly tests and conference calls for officials to stay sharp during the lockout, declined to say whether the replacements made the right call.

"You really don't want to see that," Hochuli said. "You don't want to see the controversy. You don't want to see teams lose games that they shouldn't have lost, if indeed that's what happened. We're not making a judgment on that."

The regular refs said they were heartened by the support they've received from fans when one crew returned to work Thursday night. Cheered from the moment they walked onto the field, the men in stripes ran a smooth and efficient game in Baltimore Ravens' 23-16 win over the Browns.

"To just be applauded by 50,000 people prior to anything happening, it was something that kind of chokes you up," referee Gene Steratore said. "It was a very special feeling."

"You're not really beloved by the public. You're tolerated. And to see that type of reception that our guys got last night was really heartwarming," said line judge Jeff Bergman, who will head to Green Bay for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.

"After the euphoria of the moment wears off, probably sometime early in the second quarter, it'll be back to regular NFL football mode," Bergman said. "Players will be questioning our judgment, our ancestry. Coaches will be screaming at us. And it'll be life as back to normal on Sundays."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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