"As you know, this has to be ratified and we know very little about it, but we're excited to be back. And ready," referee Ed Hochuli told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "And I think that's the most important message — that we're ready."Hochuli is the cartoonish referee with the gun show arms who, to paraphrase a memorable comment I once heard from Vikings announcer Paul Allen, tells you how the watch is made when you ask him what time it is. It's amazing when you look forward to the return of someone like that. But here we are.
Here is how you will know if the NFL understands how badly it has screwed the pooch in recent weeks -- yesterday fines went out to a variety of people, including Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, for their complaints and actions during and following games on Sunday. If T. J. Lang of the Packers doesn't get fined for his comments, it will be a tacit confirmation that the NFL really understands what a disaster the last three weeks have been.