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.

COLUMN: NFL, not replacement referees to blame for poor officiating

The first two weeks of the NFL season have come and gone. There are new faces in new places, swapping old digs for new Nike-sponsored jerseys. But not only have there been player swaps but referee swaps as well.