After one of the worst no-calls in NFL history when Nickell Robey-Coleman made significant contact on New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver TommyLee Lewis, the officials are again in the news for a crucial missed call. This is just another example of poor officiating impacting the result of NFL games. The NFL came out and admitted the play should have been flagged, however, it was too late as the Los Angeles Rams advanced to the Super Bowl. The referees need to be held accountable for their actions, penalties should be reviewed, and the NFL should consider hiring full-time officials. The NFL seems to enjoy controversy, however, too many more incidents like this could end of the game as we know it.
Flag on the Play, Excessive Missed Calls
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
It is difficult to count how many missed calls the NFL referees have had in the past few years, from the Dez Bryant “catch” to the numerous roughing the passer calls on Clay Matthews. Every time the officials seem to get off without any sort of punishment. These are supposed to be the best officials available but miss the most obvious calls nearly every game. When officials miss a call, they are never suspended or punished, however, a player or coach can be fined for criticizing officials. Players, coaches, even owners are punished for their actions so why not officials? Installing a policy to fine or suspend officials making constant or crucial mistakes would improve the quality of officiating. With all of the issues facing the league today, this seems like one of the easier fixes.
After Further Review
Reviews slow the game down and can take a long time, but sometimes it’s worth it. If the referees reviewed the play involving Robey-Coleman, the Saints likely are able to kick a chip shot field goal and advance to the Super Bowl. The game instead heads to overtime after Greg Zuerlein hit the tying field goal and the longest game-winner in playoff history to send Los Angeles to the Super Bowl.
Everyone makes mistakes; however, we should admit when we make them. If pass interference should’ve been called, you should call it. Reviewing penalties to ensure accuracy is another easy fix the NFL can implement. While the game may be delayed, getting a call right makes it worth it. This play was also a helmet to helmet hit. With the emphasis on player safety the league has, this should have caught their attention for at least that. Any play with that vicious of a hit should concern officials, and the lack of concern worries me.
The NFL has four full-time officials out of 121 employed by the league. Most officials work for the league one day a week then have regular careers such as lawyers and teachers. With the number of mistakes made, employing full-time officials to ensure they understand the rules could only benefit the league. The rulebook is written in a confusing way, so questions such as what a catch is and what is roughing the passer are still unknown. The officials are supposed to know what the rules are, yet clearly, do not. If the people employed to enforce the rules don’t know them, that is a serious problem the NFL needs to fix.
The league needs to write the rules in diction so basic even a two-year-old could describe a catch. The catch rules are pages of complex text, let’s break it down into a few short sentences or phrases. Instead of assuming all fans went to Harvard, let’s make the rulebook so someone with the comprehension level of Dr. Seuss could understand it. Simplifying the language would allow for clearer and faster decisions and would eliminate much of the controversy surrounding calls.
The Last Word
The NFL has so many issues facing the league today. Some of them such as the Los Angeles Chargers failing to sell out a 27,000-seat stadium with a winning record will take time to solve. Others such as what a catch is and allowing for any colour cleats as the NBA does could be changed very easy. With new leagues such as the Alliance for American Football and the return of the XFL, the NFL has some work to do to ensure the popularity remains.
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