NFL fines Clay Matthews for criticizing officials via Twitter

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The NFL has an officiating problem. However, it doesn’t want any employees of its teams to point out the existence of the officiating problems.

Rams linebacker Clay Matthews, who was flagged for a roughing the passer penalty in Week Five that didn’t actually happen, has been fined $12,500 for criticizing the league’s officiating on Twitter, via Adam Schefter of ESPN.

“The storyline for the 2019 season continues to be the refs inability to make the accurate and correct calls week in and week out,” Matthews tweeted early Tuesday, after a Lions-Packers game that included multiple bad calls. “Al Riveron continues to blindly side with his refs and the current status quo. Something must change! Zero accountability.”

There may be zero accountability for the officials, but there’s now plenty of accountability for players who criticize them.

That’s not the way it used to be. At one point, the league office told PFT that players would be subject to fines only if the players make comments that attack the integrity of the officials. The NFL broke from that approach in 2016, when Washington cornerback Josh Norman received a $25,000 fine for saying in a post-game press conference regarding field judge Brad Freeman, “You suck.”

Said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy at the time, “I can’t recall the last time a player was fined.”

Now, two of them have been fined in one weekend, with Matthews joining Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

The league’s position is that nothing has changed, and the league forwarded to PFT the following the policy entitled “Offenses Against Game Officials.”

Here’s what it says: “Sportsmanship and respect are at the core of our game. Showing genuine respect to teammates, opposing players, coaches, fans, and others involved in the game are important values and support our commitment to game integrity. This commitment to respect is particularly important in the context of our Game Officials. Public criticism of our Game Officials has long been unacceptable in any forum because it calls into question the integrity of, and public confidence in, our game. Public criticism of officiating or Game Officials by players or club employees is prohibited. . . . Violations may be subject to League accountability measures, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s), including for first offenses. In addition, a direct, personal attack on a specific Game Official(s) or statements that serve to impugn the integrity of a Game Official or officiating as a whole will result in more significant accountability measures.”

To summarize, officials make mistakes. And everyone points them out, including folks like NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent and employees of the NFL who work for NFL Media. But players face fines for doing so.

The league has an officiating problem. Heavy-handed tactics directed to players who react to the specific instances that reconfirm the officiating problem may not be the ideal way to solve it. Instead, it creates the impression that the NFL is trying to hide something.

51 responses to “NFL fines Clay Matthews for criticizing officials via Twitter

  1. The officiating has become blatantly worse since gambling on the NFL has been legalized in most states. The fix is in.

  2. It has to be unimaginably frustrating for a player to practice all week, play well, make a game deciding sack and have some incompetent or biased official throw a flag negating everything you’ve done.

  3. Let referring be their pnly job by training, practicing and paying them thoroughly. It is the ony way! Or the NFL will be looked like the NBA a complete payoff!!

  4. ariani1985 says:
    Packer fans head exploding in 3,2,1!
    Why ? Clay is correct. I'm a Packer fan,.. I saw the game and the officiating. It went both ways,… but the 2 hands to the face calls were bad. Tilted the game to the Pack.
    Sure we got the win,… and a win is a win. But the officiating was not so good.
    Lions fans should be angry. Maybe you Barney and Bears fans too.
    And then I remember the "Fail Mary" and I say to myself,… It's a win and there's no guilt for winning ugly.

  5. Anyone else remember when Shaq cussed out the officials and David Stern in an interview after a game and then cussed some more after the reporter reminded him that he was on live TV? It won’t be long before an NFL player does something similar.

  6. “Instead, it creates the impression that the NFL is trying to hide something.”

    Respectfully disagree. I think it helps to cement the impression the NFL and their officials they will do as they please, and they will brook no smart mouth or ridicule from any player or coach. I suppose it’s possible they think they can convince people the officiating is on the up and up and so they think they need to avoid the impression they are trying to hide something when they plainly are. but I don’t think they are trying to hide anything. I think it’s blatant, in-your-face, and they don’t even try to hide it.

  7. NFL mgt. is beyond believable. They are so cheap with game scores and injuries, while they pay no federal taxes (as in zero). Cameras are coming. We want to know who actually wins these games.

  8. Just say this: “The officials did a good and fair job tonight. If you actually watched the game you will know whether or not to believe that statement.” If the NFL fines the player, they are essentially admitting the officials in question did a bad job.

  9. Lets see.
    Pack won.
    Lions covered.
    NFL dream team that much closer to Superbowl in Anniversary season.
    Vegas happy.
    What’s the controversy people?

  10. We wouldn’t be criticizing the officials if they weren’t demonstrably bad at their jobs, how hard is that to understand for the NFL?

  11. Good for him! Bad for the NFL! They better start getting these calls right or there are going to be huge issues down the road.

  12. A GoFundMe page for any players criticizing the refs would be great. Each fan pledges one penny to show how much we agree with the players assessment of the poor officiating.

  13. The NFL has an agenda and its ti make sure the teams with ultra marketable pretty boy QBs make the playoffs and get their push.the rich get richer in the nfl. You can see them go out of their way , week after week to help certain teams. Alot of people are starting to see the refs have an nfl mandated agenda they are pushing. When it looks bad for their team, bs flags start flying and it becomes ref ball. Fans are losing faith. Goodell has no integrity, he care about printing money.

  14. They don’t fine players for complimenting the refs. And sarcasm is damn near impossible to prove in a tweet. Players should just tweet stuff like “AMAZING job this Sunday refs!” when there’s an obvious horrible call. At the very least it’ll be fun seeing the league say they fined a player for complimenting the refs.

  15. This is nothing new. All of these employees have to sign contracts protecting the seal.There is just so much more to talk about in a negative fashion. There are too many rules protecting the offense that are hard to judge, and then there is the joke of holding.

  16. William Race says:
    October 19, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    Glad fans don’t get fined. Brady and his wife couldn’t pay off my fines!
    Wait for it…I’m sure Roger’s working on a way to do that.

  17. Why watch the games if their tilted for one team to win…and one predetermined team to win the super bowl?….cause we all know that team already….am I going to be fined for this statement?.

  18. The players should get together and all complain about the officials in one week. The NFL would look stupid for sending out 500 letters with fines.

  19. Much like a libel or slander lawsuit in court, you can’t lose if you are telling the truth. Matthews and Mayfield should appeal and then take the NFL to court. The officials are terrible and make horrible mistakes that affect the outcome of games. Go ahead NFL…prove that statement to be false.

  20. “NFL mgt. is beyond believable. They are so cheap with game scores and injuries, while they pay no federal taxes (as in zero). Cameras are coming. We want to know who actually wins these games.”

    The no taxes thing is tired. The truth is that each team pays taxes, as does each individual owner and ownership group. Goodell pays taxes on his salary. Only the league office is considered a nontaxable entity.

    This is common knowledge, but people continue to misrepresent the situation.

  21. NFL to all employees:
    “We will all be one big happy family and you’ll like it … whether you like it or not. If you don’t like it, you WILL pay the price.”

  22. ariani1985 says:
    Packer fans head exploding in 3,2,1!

    As a Packer fan I get it. The Fail Mary game was something I will never forget. I also remember the Packers giving up like 9 sacks and being generally inept on offense in that game because they couldnt handle the Seattle pass rush, so it wasnt JUST about the Fail Mary. Point being, if the Lions would have finished their drives we wouldn’t be talking about this. Yes they were terrible calls, and the Packers didnt really deserve to win that game, but Detroit left the door open. Leave it to the Zebras and youre gonna get screwed.

  23. If the refs would get fined for a bad call… maybe they would keep the yellow flags is their pockets more often.

  24. It’s ironic that the Aaron Rodgers rule would bite his ex commercial partner but the Monday night disaster further solidified my opinion that the NFL has an agenda.

  25. Lets see.
    Pack won.
    Lions covered.
    NFL dream team that much closer to Superbowl in Anniversary season.
    Been wondering how some of you conspiracy types make the math work. If the refs were corrupt, how would throwing flags in the Packers favor help? The Pack didn’t cover the spread and they wouldn’t be helping GB if they wanted the Lions to cover it, so where’s the fix? Sometimes people are just bad at their jobs and there is no underlying factor.

  26. The perfect next step would be to have all the players start anthem kneeling to protest officiating. Then Park Avenue heads would really start exploding!

  27. Appeal if possible.
    Id not, tell them to stuff their fine and improve the terrible officiating.
    In the meantime, fire that scumbag Goodell, regardless of what Jerry Jones says.
    If possible, pressure that jerk to shut his mouth and spend more time in trying to develop a winning effort

  28. The refs can tilt the games they can’t flat out fix the outcome. If you are an edge player we have to use this before making our bets. Certain teams have higher value , so they might get that marginal call that can really tilt the scales. But I agree the game is going to crap but the money is still good.

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