The one-week suspension with pay of Rob Vernatchi, the side judge responsible for the most recent Monday night officiating blunder, isn’t the only unusual move made by the NFL in advance of Week Six.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the back judge who blew the illegal bat call at the conclusion of the Week Four Lions-Seahawks game has been shifted away from the high-profile Sunday night game at Indianapolis between the Patriots and Colts.
According to the source, Greg Wilson, the back judge on referee Tony Corrente’s crew, has been reassigned to the Dolphins-Titans game. While not disciplinary, the move keeps Wilson out of the bright lights of prime time, where it inevitably would have been mentioned by the NBC broadcast crew that Wilson is the one who failed to throw a flag when Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright slapped a loose ball out of the end zone.
The league previously defended Wilson’s decision, describing the question of whether Wright was deliberately batting the ball a judgment call. Even if judgment is involved, most believe that it’s clear Wright knocked the football out of the end zone in order to take advantage of the rule that gives possession to the defense at its own 20 if a fumble by the offense bounces into, and out of, the end zone.
Regardless, the league has opted to keep Wilson off the higher stage of prime time, at least for now.
The NFL has not yet responded to a request from PFT for comment. The NFL Referees Association likewise has not responded to a request for comment.