After the Eagles beat the Panthers last Thursday night, PFT and other outlets pointed out that the Eagles had 10 penalties accepted for 126 yards in the game while the Panthers were deducted one yard on their one accepted penalty.
That wasn’t out of the norm for Eagles games officiated by referee Pete Morelli. The last four games involving the Eagles and Morelli saw Philly penalized 40 times while their opposition was penalized eight times. Eagles coach Doug Pederson was asked about it and said he thought the league was aware of that disparity.
That’s not the only history between a referee and a team that’s come up recently. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady noted referee Jerome Boger’s crew has “called much more penalties on us than the other team” after a loss to the Panthers earlier this month and all of that discussion has caught the attention of the NFL Referees Association.
They released a statement from NFLRA executive director Scott Green on Thursday hitting back at any suggestions of bias that might come from such observations and comments.
“Claims like these demonstrate a fundamental lack of knowledge about NFL officiating,” Green said. “NFL officials are graded on every call made in every game. Missing a single one can hurt his or her ranking and may be the difference between working in the postseason or not. These recent attempts to sensationalize statistics and create click-bait headlines lack important context. Without the proper perspective, the information being pushed is completely misguided. The passion of NFL fans and teams are a big part of what makes the game so great. However, it’s no excuse for the irresponsible and baseless claims we’ve seen lately. NFL officials are committed to upholding the integrity of the game and do so every week.”
The statement points out that declined penalties could paint a more balanced picture and that notions of historical bias don’t fit with crews that change their makeup from year to year. Both of those things are true, but they’re unlikely to make too many fans feel differently if their team is on the wrong side of a wide disparity in penalties.