Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Are they, or aren't they? Conflicting reports remain, but maybe, just maybe we'll get the real refs back soon– Hochuli biceps and all.
According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen the NFL and the NFLRA have made significant progress over the last 24hrs, and now it seems a question of 'when' not 'if' the league's long-term referees will be back, saving us all from the madness. Concurrently, however, there are a number of writers who are saying that while progress has been made, it's not nearly as close as being portrayed. Even NFLPA rep DeMaurice Smith is preaching a degree of caution, telling fans that we all need to wait for the ink to dry.
Like last year's negotiations between the league and players, how many times were we all told a deal was 'close' only to see it dashed at the last moment by a single impasse? The league is definitely better with the standard officials, but it will be a question of whether Monday night's debacle will be enough to serve as the catalyst for an agreement. In all these situations there's a cost/benefit analysis being done, and perhaps the public black eye was enough to outweigh the money the league are trying to save.
Time will tell, but I can't help but feel a pang of sadness at the idea of the NFL in week four without the lovable louts that are the replacement refs; lest we never forget their ineptitude.