By the time you read this, the reports I'm seeing all over the Intertubes should hopefully be confirmed. The referee lockout has ended.
The one I'll refer to here is from Pro Football Talk, which is reporting that a team of regular referees will be assigned to Thursday Night Football, and the entire NFLRA will return for the weekend's slate of games. That means the replacement referees are done, and I haven't been so glad to see a door hit a rear end since Mike Mularkey took off for Jacksonville.
These referees, through little fault of their own, were a disaster. They made poor calls, slowed down games, ignited a firestorm of controversy and just generally looked overwhelmed. I blame the NFL for hiring them and sticking by them for three weeks, obviously, but I wish both sides had been mildly less obstinate. In the case of the league, perhaps mildly more than mildly.
Still, great news. I look forward to having the Falcons-Panthers game called by the NFLRA.
That said, we shouldn't romanticize the old referees. They are still going to make costly mistakes, blow calls your grandmother's grandmother who only spoke Hungarian and never saw a football could make and just generally rile up the fans from time to time. Perfection isn't making its triumphant return.
The familiarity will do us good. These gentlemen understand the NFL rulebook, have years of experience calling NFL games and can keep the action on the field moving smoothly and relatively free of cheap shots. That's a large enough improvement that I don't care if the NFL comes to my house and sneaks a $5 out of my wallet so they don't have to pay themselves.
Your reaction to the referee return?