Sports Medley: How Bad are NFL Referees? 23 Nov 15
by Tony Medley
Bring back the replacement refs:
In Sunday’s Washington-Carolina game Carolina was leading 21-14 when
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton threw a pass. The receiver caught it but
was immediately hit high, bobbled the ball, and it was snatched out of
the air by the Washington defender who had hit the receiver high and run
in for a touchdown. Game tied 21-21.
Wait! There’s a flag. The referee had called the defender for an illegal
hit that was too high. The touchdown was nullified, Carolina given a
first down, and Carolina drove in for a touchdown making the score 28 –
14 instead of tied. The announcers explained that there was some rule
that prohibited that type of hit.
But in the San Francisco-Seattle game Sunday afternoon there was an
identical hit by a San Francisco defender on a Seattle tight end. It did
not result in an interception or fumble and there was no flag! This hit
was in the middle of the field with no other players around. Everybody
saw it clearly.
Then there was another identical hit in the Arizona-Cincinnati game
Sunday evening with no interception and no flag thrown. Worse, that hit
was actually helmet to helmet.
So why was a flag thrown in the Washington- Carolina game, but none in
the San Francisco- Seattle and Arizona-Cincinnati games? The answer is
that all these referees stink and are out of control. One wants to
penalize every little possible infraction, and the others want to let
them play. So what’s a penalty on the east coast is not a penalty on the
west coast. It seems that at least half of the plays in each game are
interrupted by penalty flags and they are totally inconsistent from crew
The league needs to stop defending its referees and start enforcing
consistency. Referees who make terrible decisions should be penalized
and publicly exposed. Right now they can act with impunity.
When I first started watching professional football there were not
nearly as many rules. In fact in those days there was no “when your knee
hits the ground and you are touched you are down” rule. The player with
the ball had to be tackled and held down for a couple of seconds before
he was ruled down. If he was just tackled and not held down he could get
up and run again. So the game was, basically, a lot rougher and there
were a lot fewer rules. And there were a lot fewer penalties. And there
were a lot fewer injuries…and it was a much better game.