NEW YORK -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tells fans "you deserve better" than games worked by replacement officials.
In an open letter released by the league Friday, a day after the regular officials returned to the field, Goodell says: "I regret we were not able to secure an agreement sooner in the process and avoid the unfortunate distractions to the game."
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The officials were locked out in June with the two sides unable to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. Replacements were used for three weeks to increasing criticism from players, coaches and fans. The dispute reached deafening levels when a missed call cost the Green Bay Packers a win against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night.
Goodell tells fans the new contract will improve officiating and commends the replacements for their dedication.