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NFL Referees Association objects to reduction of Dennis Wiedman suspension

ref-wideman Getty Images

Earlier this season, Calgary Flames defense Dennis Wideman flattened NHL Linesman Don Henderson. The move drew a relatively light 20-game suspension. Via appeal, an arbitrator cut it in half.

The NHL Officials Association objected strongly to the the outcome. The NFL Referees Association has joined in the objection.

“We concur completely with the NHLOA’s objection to the reduced suspension,” NFLRA executive director Jim Quirk said in a press release. “Regardless of the sport, any time an athlete makes unnecessary physical contact with an official there needs to be swift and certain punishment.

“Cutting the player’s suspension from 20 to 10 games while Linesman Henderson is expected to miss the remainder of the season due to the injury he sustained from the unnecessary hit, sends a horrible message about sportsmanship and the behavior of athletes. The integrity of all sports rests with the conduct of the players and the enforcement of the rules by officials. It’s a sad day when leniency is provided to an athlete who so directly violates this code of conduct and sportsmanship.”

It really is an amazing result, given the brazen nature of Wideman’s conduct. Attacks by players on officials should never be tolerated; for Wideman to miss only 12 percent of the season definitely doesn’t send that message.

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28 Responses to “NFL Referees Association objects to reduction of Dennis Wiedman suspension”
  1. whenwilliteverend says: Mar 14, 2016 12:12 PM

    Is anybody really surprised? These players do whatever they want then make up excuses about why they shouldn’t face the consequences for it and the suspensions then get reduced. Is this kindergarten? These guys talk about how they are grown men but when it comes time to face the music they whine like kindergartners. I think he should be suspended as many games as the ref misses.

  2. morr24 says: Mar 14, 2016 12:22 PM

    I would sue the player civilly for battery and has for punitive damages as the player was clearly acting maliciously. You do not assume any risk related to intentional torts of which this was one.

  3. gromit45 says: Mar 14, 2016 12:23 PM

    Wiedman should be out for as long as the ref is out.

  4. intrafinesse says: Mar 14, 2016 12:23 PM

    Why would the arbitrator reduce it?
    It seemed fairly clear cut?

    In addition, a 20 game suspension seems far too short, given that the ref was injured. It’s not like it was just a shove or a punch.

  5. intrafinesse says: Mar 14, 2016 12:23 PM

    I suppose the refs can just start calling A LOT of penalties on the Flames and Wideman in particular.

  6. hahalolrofl says: Mar 14, 2016 12:23 PM

    Its the NHL . . . poorly run like the NFL.

    Can the NFL get legitimate, full time refs? Toss out these goofballs like Ed Big Pipes Hocs or Tony Dirty Mouth Corrente?

  7. pg99bassist says: Mar 14, 2016 12:24 PM

    Next time I buy a ticket and the image on the ticket is of a referee or I buy a jersey of an official I will officially care how a referee feels. Your job is to officiate impartially and accurately. As soon as we, fans and media both, can ask you questions in a post game setting about the egregious blown calls or lack of understanding about the sport you are supposed to be the rules enforcement of… Then I will care what you think. But while you consistently make BS calls, miss clear infractions or can’t even apply the rules properly with no clear accountability or consideration… then shut your mouth. Your Union isn’t even comprised of professionals. You are part timers. Shut up.

  8. churchofthehoody says: Mar 14, 2016 12:26 PM

    Dude shoulda been suspended for an entire season…

  9. bigjdve says: Mar 14, 2016 12:34 PM

    Personally, I think that they should make an example of him and banish him.

    Hitting an official in any sport shouldn’t be tolerated. I know they don’t make the correct call all of the time but they do the majority of the time and if you think about the fact that they are watching multiple players from multiple teams doing a bevy of actions, they deserve more respect then they get.

  10. eustus says: Mar 14, 2016 12:38 PM

    If you dislike the way Goodell is running the NFL, you would absolutely hate the way Bettman is running the NHL.

    NHL ownership has always, and will always, live in it’s own universe. They can’t do anything right. As wildly inconsistent as the NFL is with punishment, the NHL is worse. They literally make it up as they go along.

    The initial punishment was ridiculous. There are always mitigating factors, largely depending on how liked the player is by the league and which franchise is involved. Of course, the league will say “it was a first offense” or “he doesn’t have a history of being a dirty player.”

    Then they’ll act indignant when an arbitrator hears their own justification of the length of a penalty and uses it to reduce that penalty.

    I don’t blame the guy for asking for less of a penalty. And given how random the NHL is at assessing penalties (in stead of, you know, writing it down in black and white), I don’t blame the arbitrator either.

    If the NHL wanted to really address the problem, they’d take the flexibility out of their own hands and make a punishment a clear punishment. But that will never, ever happen because the league will never, ever give up that amount of control.

  11. skinsrock says: Mar 14, 2016 12:39 PM

    I’m tired of anyone who gets out of a crime/incident because they claim this or that… What happened to punishing people for exactly what their actions were instead of guessing what they were thinking/feeling when they did it… I think about the Oscar Pistorius charges… The guy killed someone and it was not in self defense… Yet he gets 5 years? How hard was it for him to yell at the bathroom and ask who was in there before shooting? He knew exactly what he was doing… He’s a murderer and shouldn’t see the light of day.

    In this case, who cares what Wideman’s defense is? He steamrolled a ref that was just in his way and it makes me wonder if it was calculated against this particular ref and he had an excuse before he did it. He should be sitting for 20 games and just lived with his actions, instead he gets leniency… for what?

  12. rainsarge says: Mar 14, 2016 12:40 PM

    Wideman should he be banned for life. We had some highschool kids go after a ref in a game here in San Antonio down the street from me they got kicked off the football team.

  13. tim2200 says: Mar 14, 2016 12:42 PM

    Huge hockey fan here and I was shocked that suspension got reduced. I don’t blame refs in every sport for speaking out about this. Wideman knew exactly what he was doing when he hit that official. He was pissed off because he had just got hit and no penalty was called and he took it out on the guy.
    Going to be very interesting to see how the NHL refs handle Wideman. I don’t think they will target him for penalties. I do think they will look the other way if he is assaulted, beaten up and/or murdered by another player. AND SHOULD!!

  14. najacoo22 says: Mar 14, 2016 12:45 PM

    Wiedmann should be suspended indefinitely, and charged with assault. It was a blatant attack on an official, completely outside the confines of play. What a piece of trash.

  15. ayblincoln says: Mar 14, 2016 12:47 PM

    Wow no mention here that the man had literally just been hit in the head and that they later verified he had a concussion. I would consider that pertinent, especially on an NFL blog. He had something like a 12-year career with no discipline history whatsoever up to this point.

  16. floriosnuts says: Mar 14, 2016 12:50 PM

    Wideman already missed 19 games during the appeal. This was done to get him payed for the 9 of the 19 he missed.

  17. joeychittwood says: Mar 14, 2016 12:59 PM

    If anyone actually took the time to watch the entire play you’d see that Wideman got knocked silly by a hit to the head… was at best dazed and shaking his head trying to clear the cobwebs…. on his way back to the bench, with his head foggy and down, the ref cuts him off and he gets his stick up and does kinda jump aside.
    not… his… fault (especially considering the play should have been blown dead when he got hit in the head.
    Oh, and the ref isn’t back because the NHL has been trying to phase him and other old(er) refs out and are using this as an excuse

  18. chriskap11 says: Mar 14, 2016 1:07 PM

    What a joke these commissioners need to get a backbone and keep the suspensions in place.

    Why would any player follow rules when they know they’ll get away with it?

  19. steelerben says: Mar 14, 2016 1:37 PM

    You simply cannot allow a player to make intentional contact with an official in any sport. Once it is noted that the penalty of making intentional contact with a referee in hockey is ten games, then the goons that you normally save for being enforcers against the other teams can be brought out as enforcers against the refs.

    It is difficult enough for officials to maintain control of professional porting events and the players involved without having a crosshair on them. When it becomes a matter of worrying about their personal safety it becomes impossible.

  20. scoocha says: Mar 14, 2016 1:46 PM

    Is anybody really surprised? These officials in all sports do whatever they want without any fear of reprisal from the league office. Is the NFLPA upset at officials that steer the outcome whether they want and bet on games on the side?

  21. whenwilliteverend says: Mar 14, 2016 1:56 PM

    Let’s face it, the NHL isn’t going to try to get rid of the goonery until someone gets killed. That’s what it will take unfortunately. It would be a much better product if they didn’t let people hold on the breakaways and unleash cheap shots on other players that cause serious injury.

  22. umrguy42 says: Mar 14, 2016 1:58 PM

    And yet, the NHL process *worked* (whether you agree with the result or not) –

    1. Commissioner’s official punishment man (his “designee” as provided for in the CBA) hands down suspension after an initial hearing.
    2. Wideman appeals to the Commissioner; Bettman confirms.
    3. Wideman appeals to the Arbitrator, who ruled that while Wideman certainly made more than incidental contact, the actions he made plus his mental state at the time weren’t enough to *prove* “intent to injure”, thus the lesser 10-game suspension (per the NHL’s rules) than the 20-game.

    None of this “Commish decides suspension, commish hears the appeal” crap of the NFL.

  23. margoadams says: Mar 14, 2016 2:11 PM

    At least the NHL doesn’t have two refs who are a combined 14-0 when officiating a teams game.

  24. pocketsstraight says: Mar 14, 2016 2:56 PM

    no way this would result in a 2 game suspension in the NFL.

  25. nicofthenorthstar says: Mar 14, 2016 3:18 PM

    Couldn’t agree more with the points made in this post. Personally, I feel wideman should be done for the season. He blatantly and intentionally crossed a line that cannot be crossed. There is no excuse for his behavior.

  26. 205diamonds says: Mar 14, 2016 4:08 PM

    gromit45 says:
    Wiedman should be out for as long as the ref is out.


    Wideman needs to be out longer than the ref is out.

  27. pastabelly says: Mar 14, 2016 4:42 PM

    Wideman already missed 19 of the 20 games of the original suspension. The reversal of 10 games just gets him paid for the nine games missed. The reason the suspension was reduced is that arbitrator found no intent to injure. As much as I don’t like Wideman (and note the Bruins won a cup right after trading him), the process of using an independent arbitrator is a good think and something the NFL should have, rather than have one egomaniac doing everything.

  28. ebdug says: Mar 14, 2016 5:13 PM

    The league reduced the suspension so there must be extenuating circumstances. It’s not possible that the NHL is as corrupt as the NFL.

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