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by Mark Memmott


                           
                           

                        
                        

                        
                                                      
                                                                                          
                                                                                                                           

Things
haven't been going well for these guys: Some of the NFL's replacement
referees, during a Sept. 23 game between the New England Patriots and
Baltimore Ravens.


                              Though the nation's football fans - from President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney
to the average couch quarterback - are begging the two sides to settle
their contract dispute so that regular NFL referees can come back to
work, there seems to be no clear reason to think that's going to happen
in time for this week's games.                          

Pardon the Interruption co-host Tony Kornheiser is convinced that Monday night's debacle (when replacement refs blew the call on the game's last play
and Seattle ended up beating Green Bay 14-12) is the tipping point that
will bring the league and the officials together before Thursday night's game between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.

                          

But
Tony's basing his prediction on an assumption that NFL Commissioner
Roger Goodell and the league's owners want to head off any further
damage to the league's reputation.

                          

Other pigskin pundits, such as The Kansas City Star's Randy Covitz, don't think any possible tarnishing of the league's reputation will trump other considerations:

                                                  
                          

"Even
though NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his staff spent 16 hours on
Saturday and Sunday trying to reach an agreement with the NFL Referees
Association, they're still deadlocked on several issues, including pay
and the league wanting to take away pension plans for the officials, who
earn up to $150,000 a year for part-time work. And even after fan
outrage following the Monday night game, which many thought the Packers
should have won, the NFL upheld the officials' decision that gave the
Seahawks a victory.

                          

"And as long as stadiums are filled and television ratings are high, don't expect Goodell and the owners to budge very much."

                          
                          

What's more, NPR's Tom Goldman said earlier on Morning Edition,
the latest discussions between the two sides were "planned before the
firestorm erupted Monday night." There's nothing to indicate that the
talks took on added urgency in the past 48 hours, he said.

                          

There's
also this: All the attention just might mean even higher TV ratings
than usual this week, as fans tune in to see if there are any more
ref-related mess-upsThings haven't been going well for these guys: Some of the NFL's replacement referees, during a Sept. 23 game between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens.

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