Replacement refs had officiated games during the first three weeks of the NFL season, after talks broke down regarding referees' contracts.
What most say was a blown call to end Monday night's Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks game and leave Seattle with the win was followed by outrage from football fans across the country -- some calling for a boycott of the NFL until the regular referees returned to the field.
Thursday night, for the start of the NFL's Week Four, those refs will be back on the field.
Many expressed their excitement and relief the lockout is over, including Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker.
“I was on WLS this morning and they said, ‘…and now the Governor who brought the NFL to their knees' and I’d like to claim credit for that -- but I think for all of us, not just Packers fans, I was with a number of Governors on Tuesday morning and to a person -- now granted, Gov. Gregoire of Washington state wasn’t there -- but every other governor said we got robbed. Aside from being a Packers fan, the NFL, we know it here in Wisconsin, not just in Green Bay, but across the state is a big part of our state’s heritage. It’s a big part of our attitude on the day after an elec-- a game. I almost said election. It feels bigger than an election, actually. It’s a big part of our economy. Some people tried to make hay out of the fact that the NFL referees are union. I don’t care if they’re union or not. I just wanted them back and I’m glad they’re back," Gov. Walker said.
Gov. Walker said the Green Bay Packers are important for Wisconsin due to the economic impact the team brings -- not only in Green Bay, but across the state.
“The economic impact -- not only the playoffs, and I’m an optimist. The one good that will come out of this besides the refs coming back is I’d like to see -- starting with the Saints on Sunday, is us go undefeated all the way through the Super Bowl. There’s nothing more motivating than the feeling you’ve been wronged to motivate those players to move forward and I think that’s the optimism that can come out of it. In the short term, it’s enthusiasm when the Packers are winning. People buy more Packers gear and they’re out watching the games together. It helps our restaurants, our bars and our taverns. It’s a good thing for our state’s economy. Even if you ask manufacturers, productivity is often higher after a Packers victory," Gov. Walker said.
Gov. Walker said the team is a uniting force for the sometimes divided state of Wisconsin.
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