Hochuli appeared to have help in making a facemasking call

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During the third quarter of tonight’s game, Broncos defensive end Malik Jackson grabbed the facemask of Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron, but the officials didn’t notice. At least at first.

McCarron immediately got up and called for a facemasking flag, but no flag came. Only as the teams lined up for the next play — after ESPN showed a replay of Jackson grabbing McCarron’s facemask — did referee Ed Hochuli throw his flag, blow his whistle and announce the facemasking penalty.

So that raises a question: Who told Hochuli about the facemasking on the play, which none of the officials saw live?

It seems likely that Hochuli got help, either from the replay assistant at the stadium or from NFL V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino in the league office. That would be a violation of the league’s policies on using replay, but there’s a widespread belief around the NFL that the league regularly violates those policies.

“For those asking about the facemask, the input had to come from somewhere else. Had to be replay and it is not reviewable,” former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira wrote on Twitter. “Nobody will convince me otherwise. I don’t like it. The rules don’t allow that. I know it is about getting it right but….”

The NFL won’t admit it, but Hochuli had to have replay help in making that call. Otherwise, it would have been called immediately, and not only after ESPN showed the replay.

The league has already adopted new policies during the playoffs to allow increased communication between the league’s officiating office and the referee on the field, although those policies expressly prohibit the league office from telling the ref to throw a penalty flag.

The question, however, is whether it’s more important to follow the officiating policies to the letter, or to get the call right. It appeared tonight that someone decided getting the call right was more important, and got in Hochuli’s ear.

69 responses to “Hochuli appeared to have help in making a facemasking call

  1. The rulebook is a jumbled mess. It is very difficult to properly call a game. Th refs do the best they can. And they seem to be generally bias-free. They just miss calls on both teams. But there is no way you can say the league office would have called in the face mask if it was committed on Brady, or committed by one of the New York teams. They would just remain silent.

    #integrity

  2. Blandino, Goodell, Manning… The NFL is full of lying scumbags at this points. Sad stuff.

  3. There you have the NFL version of INTEGRITY.

    If getting the calls right is a most important thing (and I think it is), then the NFL should change its rules and follow them, making clear that on-field referees can get outside help from a particular group of clearly named people (just like the refs are named). Otherwise, the Goodell and NFL front office need to shut up about INTEGRITY.

  4. Getting it right is very important, only if they are going to get it right all the time. With a league this rigged and crooked you can bet they would want to get it right only if it steers the game in the direction they want.

  5. Rules are for other people, even rules that don’t exist or weren’t broken. The league office doesn’t have to follow their own rules, because integrity and stuff.

  6. Man, I’m getting sick of the NFL. I get that he got it right in this case, but what about EVERY. OTHER. MISSED. CALL. How are they deciding when to ‘help’ the officials, and when to overlook the blown calls? It’s arbitrary and gives the team getting the arbitrarily-dispensed benefit of the ‘help’ an unfair advantage.

  7. Yeah. That was pretty obvious. I wish they’d change the rules to ensure that the right calls get made, and the right call did get made. But they went outside the rules to do it.

  8. I’m all for getting it right, but I voted “No” because it’s against the rules. The reason this matters more so than the missed penalty that could possibly help a team if called is because of the risk of someone else deciding when to do so and when not to… For instance, if the person notifying the ref of the missed penalty in one case doesn’t do so in a later spot within that same game, or in another game, it could be viewed as showing favoritism, and influencing games. If you want the freedom to do that sort of thing, make it legal and be transparent about the process. Heck, they could even allow a camera into the special room to see the replay officials that review and provide feedback on calls to be included with Blandino’s weekly shows for any controversial calls, though that would never happen.

  9. You can’t expect refs to see everything on the field and be at the right angle with no obstruction to see if a penalty was committed. I prefer them using every tool at their disposal to get the call right.

  10. Not right. Using an in-stadium replay board provides an unfair advantage to the home team, as the stadium workers simply wouldn’t show anything negative against them.

    Getting a call from NY to assist in making the correct call is wrong too. As Goodell has stated several times during deflategate, “All 32 teams need to be operating under the same rules.”

    If only certain teams at certain times get the benefit of an extra set of eyes in NY, looking at replay on normally non-reviewable plays, by the league’s own standards it’s not fair.

  11. The Lions – Seahawks is NOT the same thing. This was a personal foul that involves the safety of the player.

    The batted ball, which would of been equally stupid to call, is not a ‘safety’ call. The only player within 5 yards of the play was the Seahawks LB, who was running toward and at the ball. The ball was headed out of bounds. No Detroit player within 5 yards of the play, all the LB did was run into the ball with his hands. That is why it’s not the same.

    I have no problem with a eye-in-the-sky calling an obvious safety violation, but also should be able to TAKE IT AWAY if it’s the wrong call.

  12. Weird…. A Boston fan finds a post that has nothing to do with his team, and claims a bias against Tom Brady. Let’s make it all about us, and cry about something that doesn’t exist.

  13. What gets me is the officials are not accountable to the fans for mistakes, bad calls or poor performances. They don’t have to answer hard or challenging questions from the media like the players and coaches do. The NFL covers for them like an enabling mother protecting her gang banger son saying to the police “My boy is an angel and NEVER does anything wrong!”

  14. I can picture Roger Goofball having a lot of extra eyes on every playoff games for the Patriots, calling anything that is remotely close to being a penalty. The league is starting to look a lot like the wwe.

  15. That was the most awesome thing I’ve seen. The refs were right and the delay was minimal. Whatever they did to get the call right is exactly what they should do every game. Good job refs. The whiners and complainers are going to complain regardless, so who cares. The NFL did a great job, again!

  16. Have you ever seen the discussions that go on regarding intentional grounding? they stand around for 20 minutes before throwing or, more often, not throwing it.

    Also, calm down.

  17. Seriously? I’d love to know on what you are basing the statement “none of the officials saw it live.” In particular, the two officials that Hochuli was talking to while ESPN showed the replay. Is there any evidence whatsoever that they didn’t see the face mask and weren’t telling Hochuli it was a penalty? Because we see this probably 10-15 times a week throughout the league. A questionable play occurs, the officials conference for a moment, and then the referee calls the penalty or picks up the flag or whatever they decided. Do we honestly believe the league is getting involved every time that happens? Come on now.

  18. The reason I dont like it is because you invite more home cooking. IE showing replays faster on the board, when there is a penalty against the home team.

  19. Either they do it equally across the board for all teams or not at all. Yes it’s important to get the call right, but it does more harm than good when the league picks which teams they want to benefit from the right calls and turn a blind eye to the others.

  20. Gotta luv it. The call basically came from a guy just watching the game along with the rest of us, only this particular guy had the authority.

    You have to wonder what’ll happen when his team gets burned and it looks like 64 held on the play.

  21. This particular instance wasn’t about getting it right. Getting it right is knowing the rules and applying them correctly, not selectively calling missed penalties after the fact. There are missed calls on every play so if you’re going to do this, you’re going to have to catch all the random holds, chops and rubs. It’s just not feasible and doing it at all just further proves to the fans that the process is flawed and can’t be objective or accurate.

    Any integrity officiating may have had was stripped away when reviews were centralized to the NY office. The league will never be able to fix officiating as long as the “eye in the sky” is allowed to interfere.

  22. The LJ told him it was a facemask after a short conference, it was clear as day. So yes, he did have help and yes it was legal and allowed. Why try to stir the pot?

  23. The length of the average NFL game is getting out of hand. This year is the first year in over 10 years I have not watched a game from start to finish. The amazing thing is that I still survived!

    The NFL is no longer must-see-tv for me. I am not the only one figuring this out.

  24. Funny how no replays were used to show what Norman did to Odell

    Oh thats right the Panthers are this years golden team

    Thank you ATL for breaking it down and showing everyone how to beat the Panthers
    One and done one and done

  25. celticsforever says:
    Dec 28, 2015 11:01 PM

    #1 there has been entire rules changed for Mrs. Brady- so get off this ridiculousness about the league being against Tom. ANYONE outside of Boston knows that he is a huge baby that the league treats as such. When a player knocks down Rodgers a little late then Rodgers gets in the players face, Tom falls down like he’s in the movie Surrogates then runs to the ref to cry lol.

    #2 they got the call right- thats whats most important. The only ppl not ok with this are Broncos fans- and i like the broncos, but the right call is most important, period.

  26. Even if they do it to “get it right”, having a big brother/invisible hand determining when calls are made is a terrible, terrible practice. And this is also indicative of the league offices practice of making up the rules as they go along.

  27. There is absolutely no rational reason why the side judge didn’t throw the flag. None. It’s just not feasible to think a discussion is needed to decide a face mask. The conference is reasonable … AFTER a flag has been thrown and to discuss if it was minor or major.

    Whatever. Any given Sunday is dead. It’s now more whatever the league office wants it to be. Just makes it easier for me to stop watching.

  28. nyfaninpdx says:
    Dec 28, 2015 11:36 PM
    Weird…. A Boston fan finds a post that has nothing to do with his team, and claims a bias against Tom Brady. Let’s make it all about us, and cry about something that doesn’t exist.

    13 16
    Report comment

    Observing the recent applications of penalizing events in the NFL , one has to wonder at the ability of neutral , or , even handed results as currently executed . Having experienced a series of ‘highest profile’ if problematic actions with perhaps the highest level of significance in exact relation to the agents directly involved in issuing these decisions , it is as unvarnished a disingenuous presentation of interested parties , i.e. injured , as being self involved rather than its obvious issue oriented interest .
    How would this address any less than an unavoidable problem , singling actual acts that describe the contentions marking the issue as a continuing one ?
    Directing attention to a viewpoint which underlines the consistent contradictory nature of the current NFL policy of ‘ad hoc industrial law’ making is an understandable observation from both admirers of the sport , and the point of view that employing a corrosive improvisational approach has as much to do with continuing the fundamental issue of missing not only the point , but of any consequence approaching fairness .
    Weird….

  29. footballfanatic says:

    #2 they got the call right- thats whats most important. The only ppl not ok with this are Broncos fans- and i like the broncos, but the right call is most important, period.
    ==============
    Your patently obvious Brady bias aside, it’s not what is most important. Unless you’re prepared to argue the refs caught every single penalty, the NFL is creating the perception they are influencing the outcome. You are correct it was a face mask. What you fail to understand is the possibility of a missed hold, or a missed hands to the face (to name a few). Both of which happen numerous times and are missed numerous times for every team each and every week. If the NFL is going to decide to “get the call right” they can’t be selective. They need to do it consistently. You’re kidding yourself if you don’t think fans of the NFL are ok with what happened last night.

  30. shockey19 says:
    Dec 29, 2015 12:16 AM
    Seriously? I’d love to know on what you are basing the statement “none of the officials saw it live.” In particular, the two officials that Hochuli was talking to while ESPN showed the replay. Is there any evidence whatsoever that they didn’t see the face mask and weren’t telling Hochuli it was a penalty? Because we see this probably 10-15 times a week throughout the league. A questionable play occurs, the officials conference for a moment, and then the referee calls the penalty or picks up the flag or whatever they decided. Do we honestly believe the league is getting involved every time that happens? Come on now.
    =====================
    Simply, if they saw it live …. throw the flag. How many discussions are needed for a holding penalty? Exactly none.

  31. How could anyone vote yes? Do you know what you are saying? You are perfectly OK with SOME games being handled this way, even though some games aren’t.

    That’s a real issue – and the arbitrary enforcement of rules and processes has actually caused me to stop watching football (except for my home team.)

    We don’t even know IF it was done, and by who, and why that play but not possibly others. And why that game? Because it’s on prime time?

    So other games get less than perfect officiating – and fans are OK with that? No wonder the league s falling apart. The fans don’t care!

  32. Yea, I’m all for getting it right, until a ref gets a call in his ear that the incomplete bomb at the end of the game should have been PI – and the outcome of a game is changed based on what New York wants. This is a very slipperly slope.

  33. Hockuli and Triplette and now Jerome Boogers are all in a close race to win the 2015 Jim Tunney Incompetence in Officiating Award – awarded to the least likely to see a real penalty and most likely to make one up instead.

    Jerome Boogers is not new to this award but his head up his arse calls in the Carolina Paper Tiger and Washington Redskins game gave him an inside track to show he is in fact the head booger among all snots in the competition.

  34. It doesn’t make much sense that the other official saw it live. If that was the case why didn’t he throw his flag? You frequently see multiple officials flag the same infraction but in this case he held onto his flag and decided to tell Hochuli after the play was over? My initial thought was they saw the facemask on the replay on the JumboTron.

  35. I understand the urge to get the call right, but the appearance of selectively getting the call right has to be avoided at all cost

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