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."

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.