NFL referees are back to work, and Gene Steratore will be the first referee to take the field.
The NFL has confirmed that Gene Steratore will work the Browns-Ravens game in Baltimore tonight, less than 24 hours after the officials and the NFL agreed to a new deal that sent the replacement refs who worked the first three weeks packing. The rest of the crew will consist of umpire Bill Schuster, head linesman Wayne Mackie, line judge Jeff Seeman, field judge Bob Waggoner, side judge Jimmy DeBell and back judge Greg Steed.
Steratore’s most controversial ruling came two years ago, when he overturned what had been ruled on the field as a Calvin Johnson touchdown pass in the end zone, saying that Johnson didn’t complete the catch. The Lions were furious and most football fans were surprised, but the NFL backed Steratore, saying that he correctly called it an incompletion. (Many of us still think the NFL needs to do a better job of defining what constitutes a catch, but Steratore correctly overturned the catch as the rules are written.)
Look for the fans in Baltimore to give Steratore the loudest ovation any referee has ever received when he comes out for the coin flip before the game.