Mike Pereira says the NFL’s rulebook is too thick


Mike Pereira used to be in charge of overseeing the enforcement of the NFL’s rules. Now he says the NFL has so many rules that the officials can’t keep them all straight.

In an appearance on FOX Sports 1, Pereira described officials not knowing the rules as a “very big deal,” and he cited three examples in the first three weeks of the season: The officials wrongly enforced offsetting penalties after the 49ers-Packers fracas, the officials wrongly gave the Vikings a 15-yard penalty instead of charging them with a timeout when Leslie Frazier challenged a play that was being reviewed automatically, and the officials wrongly picked up a penalty for a chop block on the Titans because they didn’t know that chop block penalties can be called on quarterback runs.

Pereira held up a copy of the rulebook and asked whether the rules need to be overhauled so that they’re easier to understand and enforce.

“The question has to become, has this manifesto become a little bit too big and too confusing?” Pereira said. “For the third time now in three weeks, we have the officials mis-enforcing a penalty.”

Each NFL offseason, the Competition Committee proposes a few new rules, and the owners vote to adopt some of them. Over the course of many offseasons, that results in a lot of new rules. Maybe what the NFL needs to do is spend one offseason studying the rulebook and looking not for items to add, but for items to subtract, simplify or clarify. A simpler rulebook could result in better officiating.

49 responses to “Mike Pereira says the NFL’s rulebook is too thick

  1. Makes sense. Part time employees, that are terrible at their jobs. I think the NFL hired incompetent refs last year during the lockout so the fans would not notice how bad the real refs are.

  2. He’s absolutely right. Too many new rules, I can’t even remember what past rules are in effect an what aren’t.

    And I follow football and the NFL closely! Simplify and subtract some rules, the quality of officiating will go up!

  3. Of course there are too many rules in football and it disturbs the flow of the game. As the NFL has tried to make the game “perfect” with replay and player safety they have turned football into one of the most confusing, inconsistent games out there.

  4. How about getting rid of Goodell and going back to the pre-Goodell rulebook? That should do the trick.

  5. I will get heat for this but these guys are not and never have been better than the replacement refs they just get less scrutiny by the fans. Don’t believe me? In addition to these 3 in the article do you remember:

    1. The SF-NYG playoff game where they had a blown snap and they called “Ineligible down field” when he had reported eligible AND even if ineligible should have been offsetting penalties?

    2. The phantom NYJ TD when on 4th down Vinnie T’s helmet barely touched the goal line and the ball was about a yard away and they gave him a TD?

    3. The OT when Jerome Bettis clearly says “tails” and it is tails and they give the ball to Detroit anyway who goes down and scores.

    and those are just off the top of my head.

  6. So many rules in the name of player safety..yet there are also rules in place that allow the offensive line to take out knees and ankles. Running backs can’t lower their head if someone is squaring them up to make a tackle, which makes you go completely against your natural reaction to protect yourself.

    You can’t hit anyone, and lord be with you if your bare hand happens to catch a helmet as you are brining the QB down

  7. I do not disagree with Pereira’s observation that there are too many rules. However, IMHO if you’re part of the solution, you may be part of the problem…

    Pereira now has the ear of the media, and hopefully has the respect of the NFL owners. Perhaps he should take it upon himself to Edit the Rule Book removing rules he believes are not valid. He alone may be best suited to undertake this task. Then release the revised copy of the Rule Book to the owners and the media simultaneously for further consideration by all.

  8. A pass catcher having to “control” the ball even while out of bounds is easily the dumbest rule in the NFL. So when a receiver catches the ball, gets two feet inbounds and while out of bounds the ball moves while in his hands so much as an inch, it’s an incompletion. That’s like penalizing a player on the sideline for a delay of game at halftime.

  9. There are so many rules I’m sometimes surprised teams can even get a play off without a penalty. And with the Jets, it’s an actual shock.

  10. AMEN!

    Reduce the number of rules and let them play football again!

    Added to this problem is that most of the new rules are subjective in nature (i.e. blows to the head, low blocks, etc.) that are very hard to discern at full speed.

    The problem is that the refs are too much a part of every game now. Go watch a game from the 70s and see how different (better) things used to be.

  11. Cut-out half of the book by getting rid of the stoopid “rules” regarding the Calvin Johnson rule AND the ambiguous “tuck” rule (or was his hand moving forward?… wait, he intended to pass but then changed his mind after he got hit). Possession is possession, fumble is a fumble.

  12. It used to be that when a flag was thrown, I was pretty sure what the penalty was because it was obvious and relevant to the play.

    I’d be willing to bet that at least half of called penalties are now either after the whistle or away from the play. Ticky-tack stuff that either had no impact on the play or after-whistle stuff that maybe should draw a fine but not alter the course of the game.

  13. The “Guru” should just shut up. He was a lousy referee in his day and now trades on this so called Guru label.

    His job then and the current refs now is to enforce the rules correctly. Do that and there’s no problem.

  14. Love it… If you notice and listen to some of these rules, they condescend one another … It makes no sense, so it’s like “uhhhhhhhhhhh, what?”

  15. The NFL’s objective is to make the sports so complicated and confusing, rules can be made up as it goes along, without anyone actually noticing…

  16. Wow, the rulebook must have gotten a lot thicker in the last year. Because last year when we were having an officiating mistake once a week, it was all the fault of the replacement refs.

  17. @pkrjones I thought the Tuck rule was already thrown out before this season started? These refs have been terrible and there is too many picky things in the NFL now that makes the sport dumb. Whenever the announcers ask Mike Pereira his take on a play during the middle of a game his ruling is always wrong when the refs give the ruling. Some of these rules are so far out there I just want someone to punch me in the face.

  18. No kidding! The real question is why Pereira didn’t notice that when he was in a position to do something about it. Officiating is a continuing blot on the league … or to put it in Goodell-speak, a stain on the shield. But for whatever reason, Goodell has no intention of addressing the issue.

    Simplify the rulebook and get rid of the ticky-tacky stuff.
    Hire fulltime refs who can train as a unit and are fit enough to keep up with the action.
    Implement booth review comparable to the NCAA’s that doesn’t require involvement of field refs.

  19. I get a certain amount of satisfaction that Bill Leavey was the official in 2 of the 3 games in question.

  20. It is hard to disagree that the rules are out of hand and some are nearly impossible to properly and fairly enforce.

    Still, it would seem that professional officials (yeah I know they are now “part time”) should be able to get these things right. What Pereira and the league don’t want to admit is that some of the crews are old, slow, forgetful, and simply not up to the task. Find new, younger, full time officials and this billion dollar industry will not be at the mercy of incompetents in stripes.

  21. Much ado about nothing. What were the results of the the 3 whole plays you cherry picked from 3 weeks in the season? Wrong team win? Affect the game much at all? I really don’t see a big problem here.

    And, even if one mistake were made in a season that affected a game, it’s called the human effect. 512 games get played a season. How many games are affected because the referees misinterpreted, or didn’t know, something in the rule book? Seriously, I don’t know.

  22. Too thick?..ya think?

    Since Goodell took over the rule book just keeps getting thicker and thicker…

    …don’t hit here
    …don’t touch there
    …don’t wear those socks
    …and make sure to tuck that jersey in or it will cost you a paycheck.

    The solution to the problem is rather obvious.

  23. Coaches should be able to challenge referee incompetence, at least when it comes to enforcement/interpretation of rules. If the coach is wrong, penalize his team with yardage – either delay of game or unsportsmanlike conduct.

  24. how about leaving the competition committee out of the process when reviewing and removing rules? those idiots are the reason we have these crappy rules. the owners posture for safety by adding rules but thats all it is, posturing. let the nfl, no team affiliation, decided what needs to stay and what goes.

  25. macbull says:
    Sep 24, 2013 3:11 PM
    Too thick?..ya think?

    Since Goodell took over the rule book just keeps getting thicker and thicker…

    …don’t hit here
    …don’t touch there
    …don’t wear those socks
    …and make sure to tuck that jersey in or it will cost you a paycheck.

    The solution to the problem is rather obvious.
    Really? Goodell does not write the rules. He is in charge of enforcement. The committee and the owners write/approve changes.

  26. Bingo! Some of the refs are too old and fat to be professional referees. Of course, if the NFL ever admitted or even suggested that, litigation would surely follow.

  27. hatesycophants says:
    Sep 24, 2013 12:59 PM
    How is making part time incompetent employees fulltime employees going to solve the problem?
    Because they would be far less incompetent if this was the only job they had. How much time can Hoculi devote to studying the rule book when he’s a lawyer for 50 hours a week? (I’ll leave out the obvious joke about his 50 hours a week in the gym.) If they were able to devote 40 hours a week studying film and the rule book, don’t you think they would be better at this?

    And yes, streamline this rule book.

  28. NFL referees should be fulltime employees. However, the argument that their other obligations don’t allow them to study the rules is banal. These are part-time employees making 6 figures. Most of them are not fulltime lawyers in addition to their NFL obligations. Some of them are fat, old, incompetent or a combination of all three.

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