NFL says there’s nothing contradictory about referees’ grades


The NFL Referees Association is complaining that the league is publicly saying officials got calls wrong while privately giving the officials high marks when they’re graded by the officiating department. But the NFL says there’s nothing contradictory about what the league says publicly and what officials are told privately.

NFL spokesman Michael Signora told PFT via email that a game official is not necessarily downgraded for the way he called a ruling on the field, even if the league office later decides, with time to study the play closely on replay, that the call was not correct.

“As part of evaluating the performance of our game officials, the officiating supervisors recognize that for an incorrect call on a close judgment play the official may have used appropriate reasoning. On such a call, the official is not downgraded,” Signora said. “In the case of the block on Nick Foles, by rule, it was not a foul because the quarterback was pursuing the play, the contact was not to the head or neck area, and the play was not over. However, the referee – watching the play at full speed and without the benefit of a replay review – judged that the block was late and threw a flag. While not a correct call, we understand why it was made.

“With regard to Husain Abdullah, a player who goes to the ground as part of religious expression should not be penalized. While he did slide immediately before beginning his prayer, this was not a correct call and the play should not have resulted in a penalty.”

In other words, just because a call is wrong, that doesn’t mean the official who made the call gets downgraded.

The bad call on the hit on Foles by Washington’s Chris Baker points to why so many people want personal fouls to be reviewable on instant replay: It’s simply too hard for officials, on a hit that happens in the blink of an eye, to get it right every time, without the assistance of replay.

As for the penalty on Abdullah, the biggest problem is that the NFL’s celebration rules don’t make a lot of sense. Telling players, “Don’t go to the ground unless you’re praying” is just asking for problems, because how is an official supposed to know whether a player is praying or not? And why should exceptions to the rules be carved out for religious expressions anyway?

The rules on celebrations should be tied to the delay of game rule: If a player celebrates in such a way that it delays the game, by knocking the goal post off-kilter when he dunks or staying in the end zone while the officials are trying to spot the ball for the extra point, penalize him for delay of game. If not, don’t penalize him. Asking the officials to figure out which celebrations cross the line into the NFL’s vaguely defined penalty territory is asking the impossible of the officials. It’s not surprising that the officials don’t like it — even if they’re not getting downgraded.

27 responses to “NFL says there’s nothing contradictory about referees’ grades

  1. all plays should be reviewable.. the only reason the nfl is firm on their stance is so that they can determine the outcomes of games

  2. here’s an idea – if you want to pray go to church, synagogue, mosque, etc. i highly doubt anyone’s god cares about touchdowns.

  3. The more rules that are created, more loop holes accompany. This is becoming ridiculous and as in many cases, i see the NFL losing popularity over the next 10 years. Granted, that is a great span of time and anything can happen. My case in point: Major League Baseball. MLB is still trying to rectify their image after performance enhancement drugs littered and changed the game forever. The legislating of NFL rules and behaviors will eventually grow old and viewers will turn away to other options (NHL, MLS etc). But by then that will be somebody else’s problem as Goodell will be fired or retire by then. Man I miss Paul T!

  4. They need to check that corrupt ref Pete Morelli’s bank account. Especially in Jan 09.

  5. Celebrations should be allowed. The game is now robotic and a flag fest weekly. I know people who don’t even watch the game at home anymore bec of how much it’s changed.. Me personally still watch it but I havnt been to a game in 5 years..why pay 100s of dollars to see flags every 2 mins.

    NFL is killing the game and it’s fans and they don’t even realize it.

  6. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t really lend much credence to what the NFL has to say about anything nowadays…

  7. I worry about the referees for Sunday’s night game with the Bengals and Patriots. I’m sure 4 Billion Dollarman Bob Kraft will be pressuring for several third down defensive penalties against the Bengals, so that the Patriot’s Nation don’t lose three straight games in row. Or overlook the offensive holding penalties by the Patriots linemen.

  8. They keep bringing up the hit on Foles and say it was legal, you know if that is Payton, or Brady it was a cheap shot and a suspension.

  9. The refs from last week Packers Bears game should all be fired. Worst officiated game I’ve ever seen!! Bad calls both ways. Phantom holdings, hands to face call backward, piling on, etc. Full time refs dummy Goodell!!

  10. The worse part of the NFL is the officiating, every week! Calls that drive the outcome—who saw the end of the Colts and Eagles without seeing two game altering bad calls! The real matter is the consistent, unexplainable, bad calls. Wonder why the NBA did not notice their refs shading games? Calls were so bad they could not tell the difference! Tired subject–and the letters after the fact are silly, and never come with any attempt to fix the problem.

  11. I can’t blame the referees because they are doing what their told. The problem is with the NFL and how they want the rules to be enforced. Anyone with a brain can see how defenses are being put at a huge disadvantage. There is no flow to the game and its becoming hard to watch, the NFL is slowly ruining the game we all love seemingly so Peyton Manning can win a Super Bowl so he can be validated as an all-time great. Wake up NFL, fans will stop watching and caring if you continue to allow the game to be played with flags being thrown every other play and teams losing because of unfair bad calls by the refs. Let the players decide the games not the refs!

  12. There are a ton of unnecessary flags every week – “hands to the face”, “defensive holding”, “pass interference”. KC was gifted a FG on MNF at the end of the half b/c of a bad flag. Where’s the reprimand of officials for all these bad calls?

    Also let the players celebrate or pray of they score…….who cares…… No Fun League…….

  13. Absolutely right with the “tired subject” reference.

    Every week there is a game or two that is decided by poor officiating (or biased crews) and what does the NFL do? Issues letters to teams admitting the call was wrong but, game over, move on.

    The inconsistency in officiating, player’s “safety”enforcement, rule changes and interpretation of the rules on the field has been steady for years now.

    And what are the fans doing about it? Grumbling and moaning but still buying merchandise, NFL Ticket and selling out stadiums. The NFL knows this and so continues its course of action.

    The only saving grace for the integrity of the game is to have Goodell resign and fill the Commish position with a football guy (or) gal.

    Otherwise, yes, its a tired subject.

  14. The refs did cost the 49ers the game vs Arizona. Without a doubt. And they also kept tampa bay right in the game for the entire 2nd half vs Pittsburgh last week and basically handed them a win. Two perfect examples of how shoddy officiating can determine a games outcome.

  15. I’ve lost some interest in the NFL.

    I also record the games I want to watch on DVR and watch later in the day. I just can’t take the immense amount of commercials.

    I also now watch very little other NFL programming on TV. I might look at this site a little and a few NY papers for Giants – Jets news but that’s about it.

    I also do agree the NFL prefers certain teams to win and may try to manipulate the outcome of some games.

  16. rhfast says:
    Oct 2, 2014 7:41 PM

    They keep bringing up the hit on Foles and say it was legal, you know if that is Payton, or Brady it was a cheap shot and a suspension.

    Exactly. And though it is a legal hit according to the rules, it’s still a cheap shot. 300+ lineman blindsiding a QB? Next time find an olineman to hit.
    And speaking of review, FOX and CBS should just get rid of the Mike Pereira and Mike Carey on a controversial call. Just a waste of everyone’s time, since it isn’t going to affect the call on the field.

  17. I sometimes daydream about a game where refs are only allowed to call touchdowns/scoring, nothing else. All the players would be volunteers, so no whining afterwards. I just think after witnessing it we would realize how sanitized and boring the NFL version of the sport has become.

  18. This is the time to bring back the USFL , play in the spring. Once again thanks Trump for the big ego and destroying the USFL. At this point why would anyone believe what the NFL (Goodell) office has to say.

  19. The NFL needs to hire a Vice President of Common Sense. They need to run all new rules and policies in front of him/her before enacting them. Because apparently no one in the current decision making process still possesses the common sense they were born with.

    Such ideas as “hey, let’s tell the officials to start legislating contact down field with a zero tolerance policy. We know how much the fans love penalty stoppages”, or “hey, let’s strip all the fun out of touchdowns by penalizing celebrations even if they in no way effect the game”, or “hey, let’s take this amazing modern replay technology and only allow it to be used on a very small number of calls”, could all be nipped in the bud by the VP of CS, who could say “hey fellas, that would actually be really stupid”.

  20. I have said this a lot the nfl will not change there course unless people stop watching and supporting the nfl. the owners and roger goodell are trying anything possible to water down the sport so players can go to a 18 game schedule. roger goodell will never give up the idea of a 18 game schedule . there trying to make the nfl into somekind of track meet. boycott the nfl don’t watch the games don’t watch the nfl network. it wont take very long for the owners to get the message that people want the nfl left alone. and all of roger goodells sissified rules recinded

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