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Report: Ed Hochuli is preparing locked-out referees

We should have seen this one from a mile away.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King reported Wednesday that the NFL's locked-out officials have been preparing for their eventual return.

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One lingering concern about the referees is how much prep time they'd require to get back on the field. Estimations have placed that anywhere from one to three weeks, but that's doomsday talk, thanks to the legwork of the increasingly mythical -- but entirely real -- Ed Hochuli.

The world's most popular burly armed official has been getting his men ready with regular Tuesday night rules-related conference calls. King was told by an officiating source that between 90 and 110 NFLRA members have attended these meetings. Hochuli then drops pop quizzes on the gang to ensure his men are prepared (this sounds terrifying).

"That's one of the reasons why the officials will be up to date and ready to go," the source told King. "Ed grabbed the bull by the horns and made sure that whenever this thing ended the regular officials would be ready to go back to work immediately."

Let's say, for example, a deal was struck by late Thursday. The Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns would be out of luck, but we'd likely see the 121 members of the NFL Referees Association on-field Sunday.

King reported the officials would first be required to meet as a group to ratify any deal accepted by the NFLRA's board of directors. Once that's signed -- and thanks to looming national hero Hochuli -- order would be restored to Sundays (and Monday and Thursday nights) forevermore.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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