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NFL referees: Roger Goodell apologizes to fans

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote a statement apologizing to the league's legions of fans after enduring the replacement officiating fiasco for the first three weeks of the regular season.

An agreement between the NFL and the NFL Referees Association was reached late Wednesday night, and the NFL officials were greeted to a standing ovation prior to the Baltimore Ravens 23-16 win over the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.

Here is a snippet from Goodell's letter, in which he acknowledges "distractions to the game" that came along with the replacement officials:

"I believe in accountability, not excuses. And I regret we were not able to secure an agreement sooner in the process and avoid the unfortunate distractions to the game. You deserve better. As a lifelong fan, this wasn't an easy process for anyone involved. I particularly want to commend the replacement officials for taking on an unenviable task and doing it with focus and dedication in the most adverse of circumstances."

The full letter from Goodell can be read here.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.