Have you ever been happier to see Ed Hochuli in your life?
Or Doug Rosenbaum or Wayne Mackie?
Theyre NFL officials, the real kind, the ones who wanted money put in their pension by the league and were so adamant about it that they made us beg for their return. We begged. The NFL begged (though it would never admit it) and the NFLs rent-a-ref era has come to a merciful end.
It was worse than your high school haircut.
There are few, if any, things worse in sports than listening to people gripe about the officiating. They are generally miserable people who direct their personal frustration at guys in striped shirts, somehow thinking theyre superior.
The screamers usually have crumbs on their team jerseys and too much hair in their ears, but some of them hide in plain sight, suddenly spewing vitriol with the first holding call against their team.
Suddenly, we had a nation full of ref-haters. It was ugly.
Thankfully, its over.
But for some people you know who you are the yelling will continue. Just hope theyre not sitting near you.
CAROLINA at ATLANTA: Very little good happens when you go south on I-85 on Sunday afternoon. Falcons 27, Panthers 17.
SAN DIEGO at KANSAS CITY: Coin flip says heads. That means Chargers 29, Chiefs 20.
SAN FRANCISCO at NEW YORK JETS: This cross-country trip may tell us just how good the 49ers are. The hunch here is theres no better team in the NFC, perhaps the entire league. 49ers 32, Jets 13.
MINNESOTA at DETROIT: The Lions have joined the Panthers on the short list of early-season disappointments. Lions 41, Vikings 21.
NEW ENGLAND at BUFFALO: Business as usual. Patriots 28, Bills 12.
TENNESSEE at HOUSTON: Against the Lions last week, the Titans became the first team in NFL history to have five touchdown plays of 60 yards or longer in the same game. You and I both know what that means: Theyll have trouble scoring from 3 yards out if they get that close this week. It wont matter. Texans 34, Titans 14.
CINCINNATI at JACKSONVILLE: I promise Im not pointing this out because of the whole Cam Newton Superman thing, but Jags coach Mike Mularkey promised to donate money to charity this season if his players would just hand the ball to an official after scoring a touchdown. Two thoughts about that:
1. He shouldnt have to offer money.
2. Considering its the Jaguars, Mularkey wont be out much money.
Bengals 26, Jaguars 18.
MINNESOTA at ARIZONA: Do you believe in the unbeaten Cardinals yet? Will this change your mind? Cardinals 34, Vikings 14.
OAKLAND at DENVER: I still believe in Peyton Manning. But I wish hed do something to make me feel a little better about it. Broncos 26, Raiders 21.
WASHINGTON at TAMPA BAY: Robert Griffin III meet Greg Schiano. Bucs 17, Redskins 13.
SEATTLE at ST. LOUIS: You may have heard that the Seahawks beat Green Bay on a last-second touchdown Monday night. Thats the Seahawks story and theyre sticking to it. Rams 24, Seahawks 20.
NEW ORLEANS at GREEN BAY: If the Saints lose, theyll be 0-4. If the Packers lose, theyll be 1-3 (of course with an asterisk on their Seattle loss). Either way, its bizarre. Packers 28, Saints 24.
NEW YORK GIANTS at PHILADELPHIA: After seeing what the Giants did to Cam Newton and the Panthers eight days ago, you think Im going to pick Michael Vick? Not this time. Giants 29, Eagles 17.
CHICAGO at DALLAS: Just wondering, is Tony Romo the NFLs version of Dale Jr.? Cowboys 24, Bears 17.
Last week: 7-8