Late yesterday afternoon, Jay Glazer of FOX reported that the NFL will conduct a conference call on Friday with all officials for the purposes of giving the men in black and white a “pep talk” and to clean up mistakes.
Publicly, the league-owned website has devoted a top-of-the-stack story to the Glazer report, characterized the report as something Glazer “reported” while appearing on NFL Network’s Total Access.
Privately, the league is characterizing the situation much differently, explaining that the conference call was not scheduled to address officiating mistakes or to provide a pep talk to the men charged with getting the calls right.
As explained in a memo sent by V.P. of football operations Ray Anderson to all teams, key portions of which we have obtained, the conference call is part of new V.P. of officiating Carl Johnson’s goal to expand and improve communications among the members of the officiating staff, the 32 NFL clubs, and the league office.
The memo explains that the conference call will include “all members of the Officiating staff, including supervisors, trainers and instant replay crews,” and that it is intended to “provide an opportunity to review common issues relating to application of the playing rules, game management, player safety, and instant replay.”
Anderson’s memo also points out an “expectation” that “calls of this type will become a regular feature of our training and review program, along with our pre-season clinic, weekly training videos, our program of grading and film review, in-person teaching by veteran officials, and other steps to ensure that our games continue to feature the highest quality officiating.”
That said, we assume/hope that the call will include some tough talk aimed at officials who can’t get calls right that happen right in front of them, or who overturn via replay review calls that had been made correctly in the first instance. But to the extent that this conference call has been painted as a bat-signal-style gathering to shore up a troubled pack of zebras, the league’s position is that the conference call is “unprecedented” only because it’s the first time this new communications initiative will be utilized.
Of course, it’s entirely possible (and some would say likely) that the memo is merely cover for dealing with an all-hands-on-deck crisis in officiating. Given our stubborn refusal to accept things at face value, we’re inclined to agree with Glazer’s characterization of the events.
And, hopefully, we’ve sufficiently harmonized the two realities in a manner that won’t prompt Glazer to threaten to “choke [me] out.”