COLUMN: 'New' refs are superstars after new deal

Referees have always been sport’s whipping boys—the scapegoat one minute and virtually nonexistent the next. However, Thursday night in Baltimore in a game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens, the referees were treated like royalty. Like Mick Jagger and the Stones running out onto a stadium stage, Gene Staratore and crew were welcomed to thousands of cheers and applause at M&T Bank Stadium.