There apparently has been some incremental progress in the negotiations between the NFL and the union representing the locked out officials, so don’t be surprised if something gets announced before tomorrow night’s nationally televised game between the Ravens and Cleveland Browns.

Though there has been no official announcement of an imminent settlement, the NFL cannot be looking forward to the ugly possibility of a third consecutive nationally televised game ending up in chaos – or, worse, ending up with the wrong team getting the victory.

The Monday Night Football fiasco already has damaged the integrity of the entire season, since you can almost bet that the Green Bay Packers will be disadvantaged in the postseason (if they even get there) because of that “loss.”

It’s almost as disgraceful that the NFL spin machine has spent the past two days trying to convince everyone that the system somehow worked properly Monday night even if the replacement refs did not. The statement put out by the league might as well have said “The operation was a success but the patient died.”

NFL executive Ray Anderson also wrote an op-ed piece for USA Today explaining that mistakes are going to happen even with the regular refs and that the NFL just wants to create a system that improves the quality of officials over the long term. How that is going to be accomplished by abolishing their defined pension plan remains a mystery, unless it’s also about a relatively tiny amount of money and about the NFL maintaining an iron-fisted advantage over all its employees.

Anderson correctly pointed out that “officiating is never perfect,” which should make the people in Green Bay feel a lot better.

No one expects the officials to be perfect, but with the prices that the NFL charges for game tickets and advertising, everyone should expect it to be adequate enough to protect the integrity of the sport.

If Roger Goodell isn’t careful, he’s going to find out what it was like to be Bud Selig in the 1990s.