The NFL's regular referees returned to the gridiron tonight to a thundering applause from the crowd -- and even got a personal welcome-back hug from the scariest man in football ... Ray Lewis.
As you know by now ... the NFL reached a deal yesterday with the real refs -- ending the Reign of Error ... courtesy of the infamous replacement refs.
As the entered the field for tonight's Ravens-Browns match up, the refs each tipped their caps in a show of appreciation for fans' support.
Now it's only a matter of time before they screw up a call and we can trash them too.
The REAL NFL refs will return to the field for tonight's Ravens vs. Browns match-up in Baltimore ... but some of the players are still concerned ... telling TMZ, "They’re comin' off cold turkey, so it’s going to be very interesting."
TMZ spoke with a member of the Cleveland Browns who reminded us, "The refs usually have a pre-season."
Overall, the players are fired up about the end of the replacement ref era.
We spoke with Ravens player Bryant McKinnie who says he's "very glad" they're back ... adding, "The real refs have better control of the games."
A member of the Browns, who wished to remain anonymous, tells us, "People will be so happy to see the refs. They will be the highlight of the game … at least for the first quarter."
“I’m sure they will give them a standing ovation, especially in Baltimore," the player told us ... adding, "If a call goes against the Browns I’m sure they will give [the refs] a standing ovation.”
Our sources say it went down at 12:20 PM at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
We're told a security officer working an X-ray machine saw the .45-caliber handgun in Rogers' carry-on bag and immediately called police.
Rogers was immediately taken into custody for carrying a concealed weapon -- a felony of the 3rd degree.