The NFL and their locked-out referees looked hopelessly at loggerheads as Week 4 loomed, even after the lockout-generated replacement referees ruined Monday Night Football for the Packers, in possession of a fanbase that the NFL would hate to alienate. Late Wednesday night, though, rumors began to spread that the NFL and the referees were on the verge of ending the lockout and returning in time for Thursday Night Football. (Which would seem almost a little inappropriate, since nobody cares about Thursday Night Football.)
Text from someone in room about deal between NFL and NFLRA being signed: "Categorically untrue." Everyone hopes it's true soon enough.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 27, 2012
Later, as you might expect, more sources came forward to throw the requisite cold water over the rumored negotiations. But it appears that at least something has changed, which gives NFL fans hope that, by this Sunday, they'll be able to worry more about the referees screwing their individual team and less about the referees screwing everybody over.
Which is the whole point of complaining about the referees, and maybe why this has met such universal fan hate: There's no fun in believing the referees aren't terrible if it doesn't involve a conspiracy theory about your team being marked for special distaste.