Al Riveron tells referees not to use paper when measuring first downs

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Referee Gene Steratore pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket to gauge whether there was any space between the football and the line to gain after a crucial Cowboys fourth play on Sunday night. Steratore and his fellow refs have been told not to do it again.

NFL head of officiating Al Riveron confirmed today that he has told officials that that’s not the proper protocol for measuring a first down, and not to do it again.

“When he did bring out the piece of paper, that was very, very unusual. The last time I saw it done was about four or five years ago, also in an NFL game, and that’s not the norm. Gene made the decision strictly on visual affirmation that the ball made the line to gain,” Riveron said. “I will advise them not to use it again. I’ve already done that.”

Former NFL official and officiating supervisor Jim Daopoulos told PFT after the game that officials are not to use anything other than their eyes to see if a ball has reached the first down stick. The league later said there’s not a specific prohibition against doing what Steratore did, but Riveron made clear today that he doesn’t want Steratore or any other ref to use a piece of paper.

Steratore was also criticized by Raiders coach Jack Del Rio for smirking as he signaled a first down, but Riveron said Steratore meant no disrespect.

“At no time was Gene being disrespectful to Coach Del Rio, to the Oakland Raiders or to anyone,” Riveron said. “At no time do our officials show disrespect.”

Nor do they use paper. At least not anymore.

47 responses to “Al Riveron tells referees not to use paper when measuring first downs

  1. River on needs to follow the rules on indisputable evidence need to over turn a call on the field…….the unqualified telling the unwilling to do the unnecessary.

  2. Thank heavens we have cameras positioned to provide multiple angle shots of each play. When indisputable evidence is needed, in order to follow the rules as they are written, all football fans can rejoice in the knowledge that calls will be over turned when they are obviously wrong.
    Steelers talk, Pats win, Steeler fans cry. Wash, rinse, repeat.

  3. Why don’t they have a level on the pole so you know its not being pulled one way or another and a square that lets you know that its being measured at a 90* angle. Then an attachment that lets you see if it touches the ball (like guillotine that slides down the pole and either hits the ball or misses it)

    Im sure I could draw a design much better than I described

  4. Does the league have a dart board to administer these fines. It seems their random for this and random for that. And where does all the money go? To a huge office blowout .

  5. Technically, if a piece of paper can fit in between the nose of the ball and the yardage marker, doesn’t that mean there is some amount of space between the nose of the ball and the yardage marker, and therefore not a first down?

  6. Only the Raiders.

    Should have handled the lowly Dallas team before the zebra in question had a chance to exert any influence.

    There’s always next year.

  7. Shouldn’t Staratore be fined for using a prop on the field of play?

    As far as the game goes, that play isn’t what lost the game. It was QB play and my “not so golden arm”. You can’t miss wide open guys on slants on 3rd down.

  8. I think it’s neat to watch the NFL commit suicide with their stupidity. The NFL just can’t fix anything. But that’s the price you pay for having stupid people making stupid decisions.

  9. Folded piece of paper makes it wider. Thus more likely to touch the nose of the football and the yard marker. A 90 degree angle would make the measurement more accurate.

  10. Steratore’s approach, as well as another, is geometrically sound. I would have the (rigid) paper touch the inside of the pole and the front nose of the football. The angle relative to line of gain immediately indicates if line of gain was reached or not. I have seen chains with a work-around for the ball so that the post can rest right over the ball’s vertical axial plane: if the post cannot rest on ground without contacting the ball, the line of gain has been reached and it is a first down.

  11. Folded and not folded is a difference of about .05 millimeters. That’s human hair territory. I’m sure next time he will do as instructed and just call it a first down so as not to cause a stir among the simpletons.

  12. I dont see whats wrong with it. I actually thought it was creative. The outcry over it is just sour grapes from folks that wanted the call to go the other way. Had the call gone the other way (IE if there was some miniscule space too small for the eye to see but a puece if paper culd slude into) those same people would have been appauding 5he extra step he took to insure that there truly was a tiny gap. In fact, those same people should appreciate him double checking that way and not just saying there was no fap he could see so first down.

  13. may be they will use a credit card to do it in the future, and they can let different credit card companies bid for the right to use their credit card as the measure.

  14. 191kfd says:
    December 21, 2017 at 3:09 pm
    Why don’t they have a level on the pole so you know its not being pulled one way or another and a square that lets you know that its being measured at a 90* angle. Then an attachment that lets you see if it touches the ball (like guillotine that slides down the pole and either hits the ball or misses it)

    Im sure I could draw a design much better than I described

    ———————————–

    Because the stick could be twisted slightly as well, which would make it more or less likely to touch the ball. As others have pointed out elsewhere, the way a ball is spotted (ref runs in, puts down foot, and lays ball next to foot) is so arbitrary that it probably isn’t spotted 100% perfectly anyway. 99% of measurements are obvious. When there are 1 or 2 per year that might be that close, just make the call of short or first down and move on.

  15. Nofoolnodrool says:
    December 21, 2017 at 3:00 pm
    River on needs to follow the rules on indisputable evidence need to over turn a call on the field…….the unqualified telling the unwilling to do the unnecessary.

    Sorry, every objective person who has seen that play knows it’s incomplete.

  16. well he smirked on that folded paper play, but on the false start penalty he was totally busting up, to where even Chris Collinsworth, and Raider hater Al Michaels even had to comment about it.

  17. Just saying.. that dude tired really really really hard to make sure Oakland didn’t get a first, props and other refs and everything… and had that grin on his face when he called the first.. can’t tell me wasn’t something suspect going on here

  18. omeimontis says:
    December 21, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    may be they will use a credit card to do it in the future, and they can let different credit card companies bid for the right to use their credit card as the measure.
    ———————

    And now, your first down measurement, brought to you by the First National Bank Debit Card.

  19. docsmith54 says:
    December 21, 2017 at 4:05 pm
    Steratore’s approach, as well as another, is geometrically sound. I would have the (rigid) paper touch the inside of the pole and the front nose of the football. The angle relative to line of gain immediately indicates if line of gain was reached or not. I have seen chains with a work-around for the ball so that the post can rest right over the ball’s vertical axial plane: if the post cannot rest on ground without contacting the ball, the line of gain has been reached and it is a first down.

    You’re onto something,

    There must exist the tech to flash a light when the pole is vertical. Add that to a bit that allows the chain to go over the ball by 1″ and you will have a more accurate measurement tool.

    But next time a 1st down is made/not made by less than 1″ just remember that a guy 20-40′ away ran in and stabbed his toe down near a pile of people, amongst which he must locate the exact position of the nose of a football, then places a ball as close as possible to that spot. Pretty easy to miss by an inch through all that.

  20. Don’t worry too much Al. That was the first time in 50 years. The next time they’ll have lasers, or some type of gadget that’s not invented yet. I kind of liked the index card. Nobody seemed to care about the other end of the chain. They might have missed that by 5 or 6 inches.

  21. The rules are bad enough; his interpretation of the rules from the NY office has changed too many games this year. He is making the stripes more important than the players and he needs to go. I hardly think paper being used was the worst ref screw up this last week. Riveron sucks.

  22. @8oneanddones says:
    Why was it folded? It looked like he rigged it to touch the ball.
    ===================================================================================
    It was folded because it’s a tri-fold card used for tracking timeouts/penalties/kickoff choices. It should not have been used, even if it was a single unfolded card.

  23. Who could ever have imagined it could get worse the Dean Blandino, who never officiated a thing in his life?

  24. Eh, these are the same scientists that “lost” the pressure gauge during the Deflategate game and assumed that the Colts must therefore be losing 45-7 to the eventual SB winner because of witches. Every day they don’t perform a human sacrifice to keep the sun burning is a good day.

  25. That was kind of funny watching it unfold. Sneaks and short yardage pile ups like that play are always hard to spot perfectly, but I dont know how they came up with that half yard when it looked like they stuffed him.

  26. uglydingo says:
    December 21, 2017 at 7:25 pm
    I’m interested if someone in the NFL Office in NYC, ie Riveron, was communicating directly with Steretore as he was trying to make the decision.
    ———-

    Had to be, hence the smirk from Mean Gene.

  27. Great, now they can instruct the guy holding the stick to hold it straight up and down and not lean it away from the ball. Jason Garrett was complaining about it and Collinsworth mentioned it as well.

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