Dear Officials of the NFL,
You are not having a good season. Not at all. In fact, for the most part, you have been brutal. I know, I’m marginalizing. Not every NFL official is total garbage. There have been good calls, I'm sure. There have been moments where the officiating has been supreme, and I'm sure there have been games where the officiating crew has not directly decided the outcome of a game.
However, there has been far too much of this. And dating back to last year’s playoffs, there is this little number. And there are others, many others. But I’m far too lazy to comb the interwebs trying to find more blown calls by officials… but they are there. Games have been plagued with clock issues and major flatulence of the brain. I’m talking no-brainer calls, guys. You're all much better than this.
The Minnesota Vikings should have been awarded a safety after a clear hold was placed on NT Sharrif Floyd. The official saw it and called the clear hold, but said that the hold started in the field of play and then carried into the endzone. The CBS broadcast sent it over to Mike Carey, who, as FOX’s equivalent of Mike Pereirra, doubled down and defended his former zebra brethren saying that the officials did indeed make the right call. Back up… you’re telling me that on a 3rd down pass play from the ONE FREAKING YARD-LINE, an offensive lineman, who, when pass blocking, takes his first step back, gets beat by Floyd immediately, and somehow the penalty is assessed in the field of play? Sorry, Carey, but I don’t buy it.
In just last night’s game, play was interrupted after officials walked off a 15-yard penalty, and placed the ball. The huddle broke, the offense set, and then play was promptly stopped…. To move the ball a half a yard. Half of a YARD. Even coach Bill Belichick, who was being awarded the all too important “half o’ yard,” was astounded.
Even beyond that, referee conduct haven’t been high on the NFL’s list of accountability. Two Sundays ago, Cam Newton accused long-time senior NFL official, and perennial referee pull-up champion, Ed Hochuli, of telling the 5-year starting quarterback that he “isn’t old enough” to get a roughing-the-passer call. Hochuli denied the allegation, saying that he never said anything of the sort. As a fan of the game, it seems that if the NFL is going to open an investigation in regards to the deflation of footballs and the conduct of NFL locker rooms, it seems just as appropriate to open an investigation on the NFL’s referees and their on-field conduct. Isn’t that what they preach in the NFL?
It is the job of an official to call the game, and keep its players safe. Essentially, we, as fans, pray that the officials find a way to be completely invisible during the duration of a game. So far, this 2015 NFL regular season, that doesn’t appear to be happening. Referees are now directly impacting the outcome of games.
So, officials, I am here to tell you, that you guys are officially blowing it. But here’s the deal… as bad as you all have been, I don’t blame you. Not completely. The problem is two-fold.
First and foremost, you are human. Humans are not perfect. Believe me, I know. You all need some help. And we have the technology to help. And yet, the NFL refuses to enable universal replay which immediately solves so many problems for NFL referees. The game of football is far too fast for the human eye, and the volume of the NFL rules and regulations is too much for any number of humans to remember in the moment. Add in the eyes of tens of thousands on the national stage. Universal replay allows referees the opportunities to slow everything down, and make the correct call (re: Lions get the ball at the 6, Vikings are awarded their safety and receive the ball).
The second problem is accountability. All coaches and players in the NFL seem to be held to a certain standard by commissioner Roger Goodell. It would seem to me that Goodell doesn't hold referees to the same standard. Hochuli's behavior towards Cam Newton only proves it. Think about it; NFL players have a conduct to follow on the field. This goes beyond just showboating and basic gamesmanship. The NFL has now censored how NFL players can speak on the field. So why aren't the officials held up to the same standard?
But the year has started, and there is nothing that can be done now...
The NFL will ride out the year, come up with glorious half-assed statements defending the atrocities you, the officials, will inevitably create (again, it's not your fault), and go back to the drawing board this off-season. I just pray that this will finally be the offseason where the NFL gives you all the help (and accountability) you so desperately need. In the meantime, I pray that there is no situation that brings about long-hidden NFL rules buried deep in the recesses of this storied game's rulebook, that all franchise quarterbacks are of age when assessing personal foul penalties, and, most importantly, that there is no call that ANY of you can/will make that can not be undone by as simple replay.
Drew Willers of The 51 Yard-Line