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Pereira unwittingly bolsters our case for full-time officials

In acknowledging the blatant blunder made by the officials working Sunday night’s Steelers-Ravens game, V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira supported our call for full-time officials.

“It was chaos,” Pereira said during his “Official Review” segment on NFL Network’s Total Access.  “It was chaos to the nth degree.  I
understand why they missed it.  It’s no excuse.  So much happened on the
play.” 

In other words, “Here’s my excuse.  It’s no excuse.  But here’s my excuse.”

Here’s what we said on the importance of full-time officials to such situations, in the Week 12 Morning Aftermath:  “By requiring the officials to devote their full professional time and
attention to perfecting their craft, the league could devise offseason
simulations in which officials are forced to apply the rules during
times of chaos
, such as the final seconds of a game where the clock is
ticking and one team is trying to get off a final play.  With increased repetitions, the officials’ ability to think clearly in such circumstances necessarily would improve.”

Though we’ve never previously believed that hiring full-time officials would do anything other than increase the perception of a commitment to 100-percent accuracy, the Sunday night spotting gaffe represents one (and possibly the only) circumstance in which full-time access to the officials could help to prepare them in advance for maintaining a cool head amid the chaos. 

For the men who were working Sunday night’s game, it was probably the only time this season — and for some of them possibly the first time ever — that they were forced to scan their brains with the speed and precision of a computer for all rules that might apply.  And they failed.

If they were constantly exposed to simulated chaos from February to July of each year, we’ve got a feeling that someone other than Al Michaels (and NBCSports.com G.M. Rick Cordella) would have caught the error as it was happening.

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27 Responses to “Pereira unwittingly bolsters our case for full-time officials”
  1. JSpicoli says: Dec 3, 2009 12:28 PM

    “Periera” and “unwittingly” go together like peanut butter and jelly.

  2. bigrig says: Dec 3, 2009 12:36 PM

    If officials became full time, they would have plenty to keep their time occupied. For starters, they could use the time to work out. Many are out of shape which results in them being out of position to make the right call.
    I also feel if officials worked teams ota’s like they do in training camp it might help cut down on penalties. If a guy does something in practice and gets a flag, he might think twice before doing it in a game. Officials could help themselves and the players.
    Officials could study more film. If they see a player repeatedly making the same mistake, they could notify the coaching staff and let them know this needs to stop or it will be called in the game.

  3. Jagdbaer says: Dec 3, 2009 12:36 PM

    Full time officials? You’re only inviting corruption because mafia and gambling syndicates will move in and supplement their incomes with $$ to move spreads. Don’t believe it? Just ask FIFA.

  4. nd84 says: Dec 3, 2009 12:42 PM

    Here is where the real problems come. Not only did the refs on the feild get it wrong, but whoever is supposed to buzz them in the last 2 minutes got it wrong also because it was a reviewable play.

  5. Mick Kraut says: Dec 3, 2009 12:43 PM

    Will making NFL officials “full-time” render them no long human beings?
    People make mistakes…
    “For the men who were working Sunday night’s game, it was probably the only time this season — and for some of them possibly the first time ever — that they were forced to scan their brains with the speed and precision of a computer for all rules that might apply. And they failed.”
    And how would full time status mitigate that situation? Look I understand that increased reps can lead to greater competency but that is assuming the current level of repetitions isnt optimal.
    Is there is a genuine rash of ridiculous errors made on a regular and recurring basis that I somehow missed in all of the games I watch a week?

  6. LouDawg says: Dec 3, 2009 12:45 PM

    bigrig, those suggestions are freakin’ brialliant!

  7. aDickRunsThisSite says: Dec 3, 2009 12:47 PM

    “Our case for full time officials”
    I thought that there have been ALOT of people clammoring for fulltime officials for as long as i can remember which is prior to the existance of PFT.com
    Claim it as ‘our own’ but its been every serious NFL fan’s wish for decades.

  8. Cujo says: Dec 3, 2009 12:56 PM

    You know, what chaps me is the fact that these officials really don’t have anyone to answer to while they’re on the field. There are three options that could assist in this oversight:
    1) Instant replay everything, like in college.
    2) Have Pereira available via satellite(we have the technology now) to review any play that a coach deems questionable. He wouldn’t be reviewing every play just the play that is in question and there are only a handful of games on at any one time so this should fall within his responsibilities. He’s basically the supervisor/manager of these guys anyway. If he needs to micro-manage he needs to do it on the spot.
    3) If the coach isn’t happy with Pereira’s call, have the coach call Goodell(same technology exists) and see what he sees. He’s always saying that he wants to see through the eyes of the players, fans, and coaches/organizations.
    These aren’t unrealistic remedies, they’re practical. The two honchos work on Sunday, and Sunday is the busiest work day for them anyway. If they want to stack responsibilities they should start at the top and hold the ones “in charge” accountable. Example: Pereira–“You called me for this? You totally blew this call, how do you not see that?”
    I would also suggest that since the honchos would be on the horn they would be able to reverse the call. Or, when two or more rules collide make the appropriate decision(reference Mr. Hochuli who was put in a bad situation when he blew the call and the call had to stand even though he knew it was wrong…it was a sad, sad day.)

  9. stefanovich says: Dec 3, 2009 12:56 PM

    Little known fact: NFL referees on average make about $60,000 a year, and many make less. They are the lowest-paid referees of all major American sports. It’s no wonder they are also the worst. Why referee the NFL when I can make $300,000 in the NBA or MLB? By the way, even NHL refs make more money than the NFL. About twice as much.
    Of course, this is all endemic to the NFL’s business model, which is to cut as many corners as humanly possible in an effort to increase profits, even if that’s at the expense of the final product.
    NFL refs may not be full time, but maybe if the league wants accurate officiating–which would seem important to maintain the validity of its product–they should invest in them.

  10. Treadstone says: Dec 3, 2009 12:59 PM

    Although it could be that I’m watching more games this year than usual, I’ve noticed that the officials are absolutely pathetic/horrible this year. I’ve seen multiple calls/non-calls blown-Colts pass interference calls just for an example-and I’ve seen numerous refs cost a possible successful conversion by physically being in the way. Something really needs to be done and full-time officials sure would seem to at least help.

  11. Bill Cowher's Chin says: Dec 3, 2009 1:03 PM

    I think bigrig is on the right track. Certainly you can argue the point of corruption, but there is plenty of things that officials can be doing to occupy their time, as well justify a full time salary, etc.
    They can work the OTS’s as previously mentioned, but they can also be around the practice fields, to ensure that “James Davis” type injuries dont happen. They can observe that what is being put on the injury report is accurate, etc….

  12. CanadianVikingFan says: Dec 3, 2009 1:05 PM

    @Jagdbaer
    Absolutely correct. The amount of corruption in Futbol, is rediculous.

  13. captive says: Dec 3, 2009 1:06 PM

    How bout we start be requiring the officials to get eye exams?
    I have no clue what the official was watching when he called a 43 yard pass interference against Jacques Reeves in the third quarter, that was not only not catchable there was no PI.

  14. bearsrule says: Dec 3, 2009 1:14 PM

    # Treadstone says: December 3, 2009 12:59 PM
    Although it could be that I’m watching more games this year than usual, I’ve noticed that the officials are absolutely pathetic/horrible this year. I’ve seen multiple calls/non-calls blown-Colts pass interference calls just for an example-and I’ve seen numerous refs cost a possible successful conversion by physically being in the way. Something really needs to be done and full-time officials sure would seem to at least help.
    I’ve been watching sports on TV since the 60’s and baseball umpiring and NFL officiating are at an all time low. Ed Hoculi and his crew are a disaster, and they are far from being alone. What you think you’re seeing is absolutely correct. “Pathetic/horrible” is an apt description.

  15. El Gallo says: Dec 3, 2009 1:17 PM

    The NFL would be well-served to have full time officials. MLB has full time officials and they don’t have any of these problems.

  16. steelberger1 says: Dec 3, 2009 1:22 PM

    stefanovich, you are comparing apples to oranges.
    The NFL season is 16 games long. The NHL season is 80+ games, the NBA season is 80+ games, and the MLB season is 160+ games long.
    How much is each ref paid per game?
    The reason NFL refs make less is that they have (at the most) one day of work per week for 5 months. Why should they get paid as much as a ref that may have to work 5-6 games a week for 8 months a year?

  17. No_Man says: Dec 3, 2009 1:29 PM

    “They can work the OTS’s as previously mentioned, but they can also be around the practice fields, to ensure that “James Davis” type injuries dont happen.”
    You mean injuries that occur during the course of a normal practice that violates no league policies? How exactly does the presence of an official there ensure that torn labrums do not occur?

  18. Nagle says: Dec 3, 2009 1:32 PM

    Did anyone watch the MLB post season? Some of the worst calls ever happened only a month or so ago with full-time, full union, egotistical officials as close as 5 feet away with only one thing to look at. An NBA official was just caught up in a point shaving scheme. Full-time officials are not the answer, unless you want union work stoppages, lockouts, and officials who look at it as a job rather than for the love of the game.
    The NFL needs one full-time consultant…that’s it. The consultant will be given a one year contract to do an audit of all the rules in the NFL rule book and determine if some of these silly calls that are supposed to protect players are doing more to affect the outcome of the game rather than actually protect players. Then get rid of those rules that are called inconsistently with the perception of favoritism.

  19. vrooman says: Dec 3, 2009 1:38 PM

    It’s great that we are able to sit at home and watch a game on TV and have the the announcers and instant replay scrutinize every play. The linear perspective of the official is entirely different than the multiple TV angles that are available. I don’t think anyone on this thread (me included) has enough balls to officiate a game in front of 60,000 fans, (14,000 give or take in Jville) and make the unpopular, split second, no second guessing decision to call a penalty. A 200 plus page NFL rule book must be understood in and out. Oh, and 10 pages of changes come out every year. Changes really screw with your memory. Full time, well paid Referees would be a boost but blame that on the NFL. Christ, give ‘em a break.

  20. macaw says: Dec 3, 2009 1:55 PM

    Having full-time officials will make it almost impossible to get rid of an incompetent official. That’s the worst thing the NFL could do.

  21. stefanovich says: Dec 3, 2009 2:08 PM

    “The NFL season is 16 games long. The NHL season is 80+ games, the NBA season is 80+ games, and the MLB season is 160+ games long.
    How much is each ref paid per game?
    The reason NFL refs make less is that they have (at the most) one day of work per week for 5 months. Why should they get paid as much as a ref that may have to work 5-6 games a week for 8 months a year?”
    —————————————-
    steelberger, I’ve heard this every time I’ve argued for better pay for NFL refs. I know that NFL referees don’t work nearly as many games as some other sports, but I’d argue that this makes them even more valuable to the NFL; the league cannot absorb mistakes in the same way the NBA or MLB can. Referees are expected to be perfect in any sport, but in the NFL the stakes are even higher specifically because there are fewer games being played.
    I’d also argue that the rulebook for the NFL is a lot more complex than anything in basketball and certainly baseball, requiring more experience and expertise to officiate at a high level. If these guys are expected to perform right up there with other professional referees, it only makes sense to compensate them on a more competitive scale.
    For a sport worth billions of dollars, increasing the motivation for refs to be on their game every Sunday seems like a sound investment. Maybe they should institute some kind of review system for the refs, where officials with higher grades receive bonuses.
    In addition, the zebras often do officiating at practice facilities throughout the week, so it’s not as if they’re only working one day. I know the Patriots have refs come into practice to officiate for them every now and then.

  22. steelberger1 says: Dec 3, 2009 3:17 PM

    stefanovich,
    You make a good argument, but I will say this:
    In order for me to think they “deserve” as much as the other sport’s refs…every day they are not officiating a game (which would be 6 days a week during the season, and for 7 months after the season) they should be in classes, reading the rulebook, taking tests, watching film, etc.
    Otherwise it is like throwing money in the toilet.

  23. Deb says: Dec 3, 2009 3:34 PM

    Mike, I can’t believe you think this is the only situation where better the officials being better prepared might have made a difference on the field.
    Someone else already pointed out the need for officials to get in better shape. I think there were a couple of games last weekend where plays were disrupted because officials couldn’t get out of the way in time. These guys are expected to run the length of the field at the same pace as the athletes–but are they in the same shape as the athletes? Not even close. They’re expected to work in teams that must function cohesively. But how often do they get to drill together? Most important, the complex rules of the game change year-to-year–and how many of these officials are up on the current rules of the game? You have to wonder when officials are announcing they’re planning to review plays that aren’t reviewable.
    You’ve got officials incorrectly spotting balls, calling fouls that don’t exist, trying to review plays that aren’t reviewable, giving teams extra timeouts because not one official on the field kept track of the timeouts used … come on! Mistakes like these can be corrected with year-round study, practice, and simulation drills. And none of that will happen until the NFL has full-time refs.

  24. oriawa says: Dec 3, 2009 3:50 PM

    Mike, you have changed your tune. I emailed you 5-6 years ago suggesting full-time officiating crews which would include a Ref’s Academy where they would be studying during the off-season all the complex things they need to know as well as some real-time training along the lines pilots undergo, plus physical training.

  25. rsa says: Dec 3, 2009 4:15 PM

    No need for full time officials. All they need is a “rules wizard” in the booth (or NFL HQ for that matter) connected by radio to the Referee. The rules wizards sees any problems he buzzes the Ref.

  26. Southampton says: Dec 3, 2009 7:49 PM

    Get rid of instant replay, and quit whining about the officiating. Every level of football except major college and the NFL lives with the calls- good, bad or ugly. Quit looking perfection and start playing games that don’t have the momentum-stopping challenges.

  27. Romford Raider says: Dec 4, 2009 6:17 AM

    Here in England we’ve got pro refs in the Premier League and to be honest they’re no better than when they were amateur, just possibly a bit fitter. The rules wizard in the booth is a good idea, he’ll have a more detached view.

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