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Hochuli told Kubiak that “late information” resulted in facemask call


After the officials missed a clear facemask call on Monday night against the defense and then a member of the crew threw the flag on a delayed basis, speculation instantly emerged that the league office used the pipeline to referee Ed Hochuli to point out that a penalty had occurred.

Broncos coach Gary Kubiak seems to be among the many who seem to believe that happened.

“Yeah, that was interesting,” Kubiak told reporters regarding the situation on Tuesday. “I can’t speak for the league. I don’t know. I know it happened very late. There was a facemask on the play. There is no doubt about that, but yet there was no flag and you’re almost to the next play and here it comes. There are some things going on differently in how games are being viewed and people that are involved in situations and those type of things. That just looks like one of those situations that took place. Ed was very honest with me and said that he got late information but he thinks it was right.”

It definitely was the right call. But it apparently came via a violation of protocol, a Machiavellian approach to officiating a game.

As one source explained the looming expansion of the communication system, which is supposed to be used only to assist with replay review, to administrative help during the postseason, the league office sought formal permission to provide that assistance to referees because it already had been happening on a periodic basis. Indeed, PFT reported that the NFL at one point was considering enhanced use of the communication system during stand-alone regular-season games.

The league decided not to formally adopt the procedure for the regular season because it would have created an imbalance between the attention given to prime-time games and the attention given to the cluster that kicks off at 1:00 p.m. ET every Sunday. Regardless, the communication system is never supposed to be used to call (or wipe out) penalties.

Last night, it’s possible that NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino yielded to the temptation that comes from having the power to tell Hochuli his crew had missed a blatant foul. Like everyone watching the game at home, Blandino saw it. Unlike everyone else, Blandino had a more effective option than screaming at the TV.

Making Blandino more likely to give in to the temptation to get it right was the Week 13 Thursday night game between the Packers and Lions, which gave Green Bay an untimed Hail Mary try after a ticky-tack facemask call that Blandino defended by declaring that “at full speed the referee is going to see that hand at the mask and the head turn and he’s going to make that call every time.”

Hochuli and crew initially didn’t make that call on Monday night. And then they did, with apparent help.

It shows how the NFL can bridge the gap between what the fans see and what the officials see. And the best way to implement video not as a second look but part of the first look would be to have officials at every game who are there to provide that immediate reaction when a blatant, undeniable mistake has been made.

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39 Responses to “Hochuli told Kubiak that “late information” resulted in facemask call”
  1. thegreatgabbert says: Dec 30, 2015 12:18 AM

    “A voice from Heaven… “.

  2. One for the thumb says: Dec 30, 2015 12:23 AM

    I don’t understand why they don’t have a “booth official” at the stadium with a bank of monitors in front of him watching the game from all angles with a microphone that goes directly to the ref’s earpiece. He would be far more effective up there than any official on the field.

    NFL is a multi-billion dollar company, there is no reason they should be so bad at this.

  3. jkampel20 says: Dec 30, 2015 12:24 AM

    Just implement a damn system that would catch these things without fail.

    If everyone watching at home can see it in a matter of seconds, why can’t the officials have access to the same info?

    This is a billion dollar industry, come on.

  4. gwhite13 says: Dec 30, 2015 12:30 AM

    And so it starts..interference from Park ave.

    Game outcomes will now be determined in league offices…great!!

  5. davikes says: Dec 30, 2015 12:32 AM

    One of the sideline refs also saw it and told Hochuli. You could read his lips saying “facemask”, when the camera showed the refs huddling. Don’t know why he didn’t just throw the flag, and why it took them so long to throw it after that discussion.

    Would love to see Blandino’s explanation of the non-fumble in OT.

  6. tonebones says: Dec 30, 2015 12:32 AM

    The speculation on how they made the call could be 100% false. The bottom line is the refs got the call right. Now when people complain about getting a call right, they have personal issues that go way beyond anything that has to do with a football game.

  7. charger383 says: Dec 30, 2015 12:33 AM

    can New York be trusted with this power?

  8. chawk12thman says: Dec 30, 2015 12:34 AM

    Two wrongs (missed face mask call and violation by replay calling in the violation against rules) made a right……..If that could be done faster and not disrupt the flow of a game, I think I would support that method. …..

  9. jzinke957 says: Dec 30, 2015 12:38 AM

    What a joke

  10. fivesixer says: Dec 30, 2015 12:43 AM

    Let’s get the on-field refs committed to full-time work, instead of these entitled old-school know-it-alls. Be there for the good of the game, and not just because it’s a fun side job.

    And I’m all for outside replay review…if it’s done right and not as an excuse for another commercial break (I know…preachin’ to the choir). I swear…sometimes this league aspires to be more like the WWE than the hallowed halls of its builders.

  11. saintswillwin says: Dec 30, 2015 12:52 AM

    I remember a game when Reggie Bush was with the Saints and he fumbled the ball while being face masked by a Viking defender and the officials didn’t see the foul, (or call it if they did see it).

  12. hahalolrofl says: Dec 30, 2015 1:09 AM

    Hock is a populist ref

  13. brucetrimble says: Dec 30, 2015 1:52 AM

    To Goodell and Blandino: pick a protocol and stick with it. The inconsistencies in officiating is undermining the integrity of the game and undermining my interest in watching.

  14. hatterswillhat says: Dec 30, 2015 1:55 AM

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

  15. ebdug says: Dec 30, 2015 2:04 AM

    The big problems with having more eyes on the play is having more penalties called. More eyes also mean players have a better chance of fooling somebody into calling holding. That’s become an art. It’s still effective even though onfield officials are better suited to spot the hoax.

  16. johngaltx says: Dec 30, 2015 2:36 AM

    Did the refs make the call or did the league guy make the call?

  17. db105 says: Dec 30, 2015 3:37 AM

    If Blandino has direct involvement with the officials’ calls on the field then it’d be wise for teams to invite him on their party bus.

  18. whatevnfl says: Dec 30, 2015 3:50 AM

    So the league office has no formal procedure, but the ability to jump in and influence some games but not others. Sounds like a brilliant plan.

  19. screamingyellowzonkers says: Dec 30, 2015 5:05 AM

    Great. So now the refs on the field can be over ruled by an office manager who has Aaron Rodgers on his fantasy football team, and bet big money on GB?

    The fix for Sunday’s game is in.

  20. Don Humphrey says: Dec 30, 2015 5:58 AM

    exactly — extra officials, impartial ones who are monitoring video at the games and aren’t in touch with the NFL Offices. Keep officiating separate — having someone from Park Avenue picking up the phone to contact officials while a game is in progress creates an appearance of impropriety.

  21. romophobic says: Dec 30, 2015 6:22 AM

    I read many sports sites, never ESPN, and nowhere else is this being reported so it begs the question, is this really a big deal? It was clear while watching the game that the officials were discussing the call and then made it, albeit late. There isn’t an ounce of credible evidence to suggest that someone was in the ear of the officials of this game. IF that is true, however, then we need to fix that problem immediately. Football, like every other sport, has a built in human element that cannot be removed with technology without removing a crucial part of the game and it’s integrity. It’s shameful, at best, to keep pushing this idea that someone watching a game on a TV can make calls to overturn those on the field. If this does indeed become the norm, what exactly is the point of having officials on the field? Why not just have 5 guys watch each game from a trailer, using a variety of cameras from many angles, and just have them blow an electronic horn when needed? Thankfully, this theory or idea is only being pushed by this particular site and being supported by unnamed, possibly non-existent sources.

  22. watchfullhose says: Dec 30, 2015 7:20 AM

    But that might cost the owners another 0.01% of their profits! We can’t let that happen!

  23. STILLlolatpatshaters says: Dec 30, 2015 7:30 AM

    First PEDton Manning won a few games for the Broncos and now the league is cheating for them.


  24. margoadams says: Dec 30, 2015 7:44 AM

    Looks Like The NFL Needs To Investigate Itself For Cheating and Rule Breaking. Turn Over Your Cell Phone Blandino!!

  25. margoadams says: Dec 30, 2015 7:54 AM

    Looks as though the NFL wanted to make sure the Broncos made the playoffs.

  26. broncos727 says: Dec 30, 2015 8:57 AM

    I am a huge bronco fan, that being said it was the right call. I don’t care how it was identified, it was a penalty.

  27. jeffberk2014 says: Dec 30, 2015 9:03 AM

    Oh great, Mein Fuhrer’s crew will be at it. Such integrity.

  28. willycents says: Dec 30, 2015 9:09 AM

    Since the NFL is obviously going to be officiating the games from New York, every time the ref gets “advice” from headquarters, have him announce, along with the call, “I have been directed by superiors to make the following call ………..”
    I can see this deteriorating into the officials waiting the requisite 30 – 40 seconds to place the ball in play to allow the NY bunch time to view the replays. Get ready for a commercial after every play while they wait to be second guessed.
    Every time Brady waves his panties in the air wanting a flag….break to commercial. Rodgers waving his arms……break to commercial.
    This will guarantee that the NFL office can get their anointed teams into the playoffs/SB.
    Get ready for a Patriots/Packers super bowl this year because that is what the NFL wants.

  29. matt2calvin says: Dec 30, 2015 9:35 AM

    So the league wanted the Packers to win, so they decided NOT to step in to correct that call.

    No integrity issues there…

    The league is a joke.

  30. willycents says: Dec 30, 2015 9:59 AM

    margoadams says:
    Dec 30, 2015 7:54 AM

    Looks as though the NFL wanted to make sure the Broncos made the playoffs.
    Uhhhh the call was against the Broncos in case you missed the game

  31. rapidrob says: Dec 30, 2015 11:31 AM

    The problem isn’t that they are using guys in a booth to make/change calls but rather that nobody is aware this is happening. If this is what they choose to do, fine. However, it should be known to everyone what is happening. Nothing should be hidden.

  32. jschult184 says: Dec 30, 2015 11:44 AM

    Here is the thing for me. If “getting it right” in the NFL with regard to officiating has become so wildly important that we must resort to video replays, officials in booths with multiple monitors and game-stopping “you should have called a penalty on that play”… I am not sure I want to watch the game any more. If winning is so important… if sports betting (legal and illegal) influences the league in this manner… I say we replace the players with robots. Because for all the effort being expended to remove the human factor, this game will become soulless and cold and just plain no fun anymore.

  33. klutch14u says: Dec 30, 2015 11:57 AM

    My goodness I’m so tired of this. They need to have ONE guy in the booths that have a birds-eye view and can see replays and let him be an active crew-member, just like the rest of them. He can chime in on anything he sees. The important thing is to get the calls right. Guarantee had this happened to Denver Kubiak would have appreciated it. All the in-game tech now and for whatever reason they won’t let an umpire use it, real time. Just let the guy upstairs have direct comms with the head ump.

    After seeing the Lions (and I’m not a Lions fan) robbed of a win for a phantom face mask it was nice to see them get this right, it was ridiculously apparent in this case too.

  34. competitivecompetitioncompeter says: Dec 30, 2015 2:13 PM

    To the lip reader above, I’m pretty sure I saw Hochuli say “Blandino called”. Do you concur?

  35. sullijo1 says: Dec 30, 2015 2:29 PM

    Where do you draw the line? Pass Interference calls? Holding? Offensive pick plays? Defense-less receiver? 5 yard illegal contact? Hands to the face by lineman during pass rush? Do you have a camera on every player?

    There could be 50 penalties called per game if the rule book were enforced on every play against every player exactly as it is written.

    Is that want we really want? No thank you.

  36. lion4ever26 says: Dec 30, 2015 10:29 PM

    The league better wake up and spend whatever it takes to make every game fair and equal when it comes to officiating. I’m so sick of hearing well that’s a judgement call, well we all know that some of those officials have poor judgement week after week. The refs deserve to have help, it makes the outcome of the game correct and it takes the heat off the officials. To keep hiding behind the exsisisting rules that don’t allow all calls to be corrected I’d just a poor excuse for the league to fix games when it wants to. Have you seen concussion??? Don’t think they wouldn’t fix a game? Really!!!

  37. ocgunslinger says: Dec 31, 2015 1:50 PM

    With a stated “The integrity of the game” being paramount, the exact opposite is taking place right now. We all know that the League offices created the PSI controversy with a goal of taking the Patriots down. Now with this direction of officiating calls being made “by the league offices” I can’t possibly imagine some suspect calls being made that will favor one team ultimately winning a game. Remember that you can have a multitude of infractions on every play. Making an off field official calling a field of play missed infranction may also have an opposing fould not called. Why play the games?? I will watch this season to see if the Patriots can overcome all the odds to win.

  38. headwoundharry says: Jan 2, 2016 2:03 PM

    The NFL should set up an 800 number so fans can call penalties. Ratings would soar and the NFL would $KaChing even more!

  39. grandpoopah says: Jan 4, 2016 9:18 AM

    Blandino and Goodell need to go. The clown show gets sillier each week with these buffoons.

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