NFL should investigate clock error

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Clock errors surely happen all the time in any sport that relies on a human being periodically turning the thing on and eventually turning it off. At the lower levels of many sports, it presents an ideal opportunity for the phenomenon known as “home cooking.” At the highest level of football, it’s a potential integrity-of-the-game donut hole that needs to be taken seriously.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, regular-season NFL clock operators are indeed hired by the league, and not by individual teams. They typically have college football officiating experience, and they live in the same geographic area as the home team stadium. The fact that the NFL uses postseason clock operators from outside the geographic area of the home team’s stadium highlights the possibility that local residents during regular-season games may have a bias that would cause them to hit the off or on button too slowly or to quickly, depending upon the circumstances of the game.

In most cases, the subtle shaving (or addition) of a few seconds here and there would likely go unnoticed, especially for a clock operator who is skilled at deliberately hitting the button a little late or a little early on a consistent basis. This dynamic makes it critical that the clock operators are truly unbiased, that they have a high degree of personal integrity, and that they are conscientious about turning the clock on and off at precisely the right moment.

Monday night’s Steelers-Chargers game involved a very different phenomenon. In the fourth quarter, it wasn’t a case of someone forgetting to turn a running clock off or a stopped clock on. Instead, the clock was off, it was supposed to remain off, and it inexplicably was turned on. For nearly one third of a minute.

It’s the kind of bizarre outcome that cries out for an investigation. Not a Ted Wells “independent” (or not) investigation, but a thorough and appropriate in-house probe into what happened and why no one in a position to fix the situation noticed.

With the Patriots and their footballs at the AFC title game, the league presumed guilt and worked backward. In this case, it would be dangerous to presume inadvertence and move forward. It’s entirely possible that someone tried to influence the outcome of the game through what by all appearances was a mistake.

If the NFL is going to scorch the earth (and bastardize science) to prove that the Patriots broke the rules, the NFL should at least apply some basic curiosity to a situation that never should have happened, that possibly happened on purpose, and that now cries out for an overhaul to the way the NFL ensures that each game consists of exactly 3,600 seconds — no more, no fewer.

43 responses to “NFL should investigate clock error

  1. Location, location, location. If this had happened in Foxboro and investigation would have begun immediately. #integrity

  2. It is also noteworthy that the spread was San Diego -3 and San Diego was leading by 3 when this incident occurred.

  3. In defense of the officials they usually correct any home town clock running or errors. It is amazing that the Steelers did not catch it so shame on them.

  4. Not even the nfl is so arrogant and stupid to go down another rabbit hole like “deflategate”, at least this soon.

    Besides, the league office had an agenda backed by a group of owners as the reason for going after the pats.

  5. With Brady we’re still trying to determine if ANYTHING happened. Here we have no question that it could have changed the outcome of a game. With Brady it became a witch hunt. With San Diego ????

  6. While they’re at it, they could get the replays right too. The knee was down before the goal line, only seen as a photo. It’s impossible to tell if it’s seen in motion. Technology in the hands of the untrained is a media celebration, gotta keep those stories alive.

  7. “that they have a high degree of personal integrity”

    To be fair, if they are following in the NFL’s footsteps, “high degree” isn’t even the first rung of the ladder. They could turn the clock on, leave and hit the nearest strip club, and they’d still be higher on the integrity scale than the Commish.

  8. If it happned in Foxboro…NE wouldn’t be left with any draft picks next year…

    I hope the league drop this investigation & this happens in NE & PATS win because of this…hopefully in playoffs…we can have the world see the hypocrisy of the league for all to see…

    Roger Godell…Snake in a Suit!…

    Ted Moustachio gotta pay his mortgage too!

  9. Can’t trust the NFL and Goodell to investigate a ham sandwich! They’d come back with turkey. I’m still not sure if they are just more incompetent or more corrupt. Either way, CAN’T trust anything from them.

  10. With the technology currently available in today’s society and the amount of revenue generated by the NFL, I would think that the referee or member of his crew would be able to start and stop the game clock with a remote device from the field. This would insure an unbiased and accountable person would be in command of the clock

  11. Unlike with the headsets in week 1 the clock is managed by the team. Where’s the media circus? The haters crying foul? Integrity smegrity.

    The NFL is a freaking joke.

  12. The clock is merely one facet of this sport that can have an effect on quality control. Why not implement an IOS (Independent Oversight System) that supervises each game for anything that can increase the fairness, improve the quality, or maintain the integrity of the game?

    This would make the owners, players, and fans more happy and it could be done in a way that increases the profitability for all parties to share in some sort of split.

  13. No. It doesn’t. Grade the guy the same way as refs (if he’s not already) and hold him to a standard. Enough with the investigations already.

  14. As a Chargers fan I agree. I would be ashamed if this was done on purpose. They should look into it. Wouldn’t want to win that way.

    Unlike a patriots fan, who would put a weak excuse in all caps and then call everyone a retard.

  15. The NFL didn’t care about the deflated footballs and they certainly don’t care about clock errors, or Roger’s favorite word “integrity”, for that matter.

    Roger saw an opportunity to gain favor with jealous group of juvenile owners and secure his annual $45M paycheck. He was more than happy to sacrifice the integrity of the league and the reputation of it’s greatest player for to satisfy is insatiable greed.

    History will remember deflategate as a black mark on the league & it’s incompetent leader and the beginning of the end for the NFL.

  16. It also brings into question the last play, when the clock ran out from 5 seconds. I’m sure the Steeler coaches would tell you that play was expected to take 3 seconds, 4 at most. While I was watching the Steelers kick the gamblers extra point I was wishing I had taken a stopwatch to the play.

  17. thestrategyexpert says:
    Oct 13, 2015 4:52 PM

    The clock is merely one facet of this sport that can have an effect on quality control. Why not implement an IOS (Independent Oversight System) that supervises each game for anything that can increase the fairness, improve the quality, or maintain the integrity of the game?

    ———

    that sounds alot like an independent arbitrator….and we already know what they think of that

  18. Just like they investigated the clock error a the end of the Vikings-Bears game at Soldier Field last year?

  19. Clock operators have ONE JOB. How can the possibly forget to do it for nearly 20 seconds (especially in a fourth quarter when they should be pretty much in the grove)?

  20. “If the NFL is going to scorch the earth (and bastardize science) to prove that the Patriots broke the rules…”

    That sounds like the GOP approach to global warming.

  21. NFL investigation:

    Roger Goodell – What happened with the clock?
    Dean Blandino – It was only 20 seconds. Nothing to see here.
    Roger Goodell – OK.

  22. so the NFL hires a LOCAL official who is NOT a full time ref to manage the clock?

    so a local fan in effect decides how many seconds to shave off the clock when a visiting team is on their last drive down by one score?

    how much you wanna bet that a clock ends up, over the entire drive, being 20-30 seconds short AT LEAST when a visiting team needs to score on their last drive?

    how can the NFL be so irresponsible?

    wow

  23. Start with the video. If the referee signaled for the clock to start, there is no need to go any further with the clock operator. Of course, that scenario would be two worse issues. Either the referee was not competent enough to be in charge of officiating a game, or, he did it on purpose.

  24. You must realize that with temperatures abnormally high in San Diego the clock will run faster

    It’s the Ideal Timepiece Law discovered by Albert Einstein

    Learned that in jr high

  25. In order to make the case that footballs were deflated, the NFL convinced the average fan that Walt Anderson, who failed to record 24 PSI readings before the game, could remember them hours later, down to the 100th of a pound.

    A truly amazing memory

    And then that same fantastic memory was deemed to have completely failed on the simple matter of whether he used the gauge that showed there was no deflation (as he remembered) or the one that showed there was deflation (as the NFL convinced most of you)

    If the NFL can convince the average NFL fan that footballs were deflated like that – then there should be no problem convincing them that the there was NO clock error.

  26. I have a better idea. Maybe the coach, in this case Tomlin, could bother to be aware of these kinds of things so that he could raise it to the refs. Instead, he chooses to be asleep in key moments.

  27. What, no subtle press conference on how these things always happen in San Diego? Tomlin is slipping some here…

  28. 3menandablog says:
    Oct 13, 2015 4:58 PM
    As a Chargers fan I agree. I would be ashamed if this was done on purpose. They should look into it. Wouldn’t want to win that way.

    Unlike a patriots fan, who would put a weak excuse in all caps and then call everyone a retard.
    =================
    Understanding of course that when the NFL investigated the clock malfunction it would result in suspending Rivers for 4 games based solely on a text between the clock operator and game day operations manager.

    But yeah keep saying you wouldn’t make excuses.

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