Pro football fans who are old enough to remember the 1987 season likely recall there were fewer games that season. Official NFL histories note the third week of play was canceled due to a players' strike.
Most fans believe the league lost three more weeks that season - the fourth, fifth and sixth games were played with makeshift teams comprised mainly of replacement players.
After picketing for 24 days, the NFL Players' Association returned for week seven and turned to the courts to resolve the main issue of free agency. The real players resumed playing in week seven.
With the ongoing lockout of NFL referees, chiefly over the future of the refs' pension plans, the league is flirting with fans regarding the games as less than, shall we say, official.
The owners should reach a compromise - perhaps establishing their preferred 401(k) plan for newly hired referees - and end the lockout as soon as possible. Otherwise, the league risks losing the legitimacy of the games played this season.