Get ready for the Bettman treatment, Goodell

Regardless of whether the replacement-referee fiasco was entirely his fault (it wasn't, the...

Regardless of whether the replacement-referee fiasco was entirely his fault (it wasn't, the officials were asking for the moon and the league needed to get them to come down at least a little bit), commisioner Roger Goodell was destined to be the man taking the hits in the aftermath. (REUTERS)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:01 AM ET

An apology isn’t going to prevent Roger Goodell from getting the Gary Bettman treatment wherever he goes.

Regardless of whether the replacement-referee fiasco was entirely his fault (it wasn’t, the officials were asking for the moon and the league needed to get them to come down at least a little bit), Goodell was destined to be the man taking the hits in the aftermath.

So, he’s going to get booed mercilessly for years to come because of this.

On Thursday, Goodell took a step to get back on the good side of his paying customers.

“Obviously when you go through something like this, it’s painful for everybody. Most importantly, it’s painful for fans,” he said on a conference call.

“We’re sorry to have to put fans through that. Sometimes you have to go through something like that in the short term for the right agreement for the long term.”

The “something like that,” of course, was the parade of bad calls, angry players and coaches and finally, the Monday Night Football travesty that forced the league to cave.

Though Green Bay was seemingly robbed of a win over Seattle, Goodell said the incident didn’t force the deal, but “it may have pushed the parties along.”

No kidding.

According to estimates, $150-$350 million U.S. was lost in betting when Seattle’s touchdown was allowed to stand (and that’s just the legal betting estimate).

Nothing gets things moving like angry people in Vegas.

After that, there was no way the standoff was going to continue.

The NFLPA was pleased to see the last of the replacement officials.

“Our workplace is safer with the return of our professional referees. We welcome our fellow union members back on our field,” read their statement.

The league wasn’t quite as pleased, but held out as long as it possibly could.

After Monday, there was no other recourse but to hold their nose and get something done.

The real refs will be received well by the faithful — until they make a boneheaded error or two, then it will be back to normal.

Goodell made sure to point out in his call that the normal officials have made some major gaffes of their own.

But they are a lot better than those who were subbed in to take their place and the NFL is far better off with them on the field.

The games will speed up because they won’t get confused and take forever to make calls, players and coaches will show them more respect than they did the replacements and the whole thing will feel like far less of a circus.

Eventually, most of this will be forgotten.

But you can bet the fans won’t forget to boo Goodell.

THE SURVEY SAYS

To the surprise of nobody, the replacement officials really were getting on the nerves of NFL fans.

An ESPN survey conducted before the end of the lockout found that more than 76% of the 1,443 respondents polled said the replacements were poor.

More than 50% said the calls made during the first three weeks of the season were a “complete embarrassment” and half said they would have watched less football because of the officiating.

Just shy of 80% of the respondents believed the wrong call was made in Monday’s controversial Green Bay-Seattle game.

STAFFORD BACK

Detroit QB Matthew Stafford has returned to practice, but defensive tackle Corey Williams will not play on Sunday against Minnesota.

Williams had knee surgery and will be week-to-week, according to the team.

Stafford should be good to go though, despite missing practice on Wednesday with an injured hip he first hurt last week, before getting hit again on Sunday, which forced him to leave the game.

“I feel better than I did yesterday,” Stafford said.

“We’ll see how it goes.”

Tight end Tony Scheffler also practiced and should play.

QUICK HITS

Reggie Bush was at practice on Thursday and likely will play on Sunday despite a sore knee … New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle missed practice and is questionable for Sunday’s game against Philadelphia after bruising his knee last week when he ran into a photographer … Cincinnati has signed safety Chris Crocker, a starter with the team last season … San Diego has signed wide receiver Malcom Floyd to a three-year extension … Washington running back Roy Helu will miss the rest of the season due to a “lower leg” injury believed to be turf toe … TE Kellen Winslow asked for, and received his release by the Patriots … Steelers linebacker James Harrison suffered a setback on Wednesday and it remains unclear when his surgically-repaired knee will be ready for game-action … Undefeated Arizona has 16 injured players … Philly offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg says quarterback Michael Vick needs to do more to avoid getting hit. “Maybe he needs to move,” Mornhinweg said. “About half of the time the quarterback needs to move. It might be subtle or a slide. It might be up and out, in a full scramble, front door or back door — all these type of movements.”


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