NFL recently issued second reminder to all teams about criticizing officiating

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After the Browns lost last week to the Seahawks, Cleveland coach Freddie Kitchens opted not to discuss officiating.

“I got a memo the other day,” Kitchen said. I am not commenting on it. You guys saw the game.”

He’s not the only one who got the memo. On October 11 (two days before the Seahawks-Browns game), all coaches, General Managers, team presidents, and chiefs executive received a memo from the league. PFT has obtained a copy of it.

The memo made it clear that the NFL prohibits “[c]riticism of officiating which includes, but is not limited to, the following: Comments regarding the quality of officiating, individual calls or missed calls, the League’s officiating department, an officiating crew, or an individual game official; [a]ccusing game officials of acting with bias or in any way questioning the integrity of NFL game officials; or [p]osting negative or derogatory/demeaning content pertaining to officiating on social media.”

The memo also explained that private communications from the league office to individual teams regarding officiating should not be disclosed, that verbal and other non-physical abuse of game officials is prohibited, and that public criticism of opponents or opposing coaches cannot occur.

“Violations of these policies will result in prompt disciplinary action by the League office, which may include fines of the club and/or individual who make such public comments,” the memo explains. “Egregious and inflammatory public comments could result in the suspension of the individual(s) making the comment.”

It was the second notice sent this season.

And the league showed that it meant what it said this week, fining Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield for criticizing officials after last week’s game and also fining Rams linebacker Clay Matthews for a tweet posted after last Monday night’s officiating debacle that saw Matthews’ old team secure an ill-gotten win over Detroit. It was the first time any player was fined for criticizing officials since 2016, when Washington cornerback Josh Norman lost $25,000 over saying “you suck” in reference to an official.

As a league spokesman said at the time, “I can’t recall the last time a player was fined” for criticizing officials.

That definitely has changed. Whether silencing internal dissent at a time when the league’s officiating function is under siege represents the best approach remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether more officiating problems arise this weekend, and whether more players will throw caution to the wind and ultimately make an involuntary contribution to the charities supported by the thousands of dollars in fines that the league imposes on an ongoing basis.

63 responses to “NFL recently issued second reminder to all teams about criticizing officiating

  1. Here’s an idea NFL, how about holding the officials accountable for their job!!! You will alienate fans quicker if you don’t do something about it soon. We are tired of this!!

  2. This is great. Haven’t seen such muzzling of people since the days I spent in the Soviet Union. Way to go, NFL. Don’t try to fix the officiating mess, whatever you do! No, no. Just silence any criticism and the problem will “go away.” Disgusting.

  3. The outcomes of games are subject to our discretion. Do not be upset if we didn’t choose your team to win.

  4. The NFL needs to shut up. People have freedom of speech whether it’s the league, the fans, the players, or the owners. If they don’t want people criticizing the officials, then tell your officials to stop making a mockery of the game.

  5. If I was a billionaire team owner and my boys got hosed like the lions did, I would tell the coaches and players to tee off on the corruption and happily sign the fine checks. Let the league and officials feel shame for their terrible performances.

  6. The players or coaches do not care about the fines. That is chump change to them. They should continue to criticize them publicly when they don’t do their job

  7. By not showing transparency, the league contributes to the tin foil hat conspiracies that they wish to dispel. Can’t have it both ways. Fix your damn officiating and tell people that deserve to know, ie. Fans, players, coaches, what you are doing to fix it. Stop hiding behind your tyranny Goodell!

  8. It’s quite a shame how the refs didn’t throw those flags for a face mask on Trey Flowers until they saw Rodgers throw an incomplete pass. It’s shady stuff like this that will be the death of the NFL.

  9. The first step is for the NFL to admit there is a problem. Until then nothing will change. Excuse after excuse. Just like addicts.

  10. Is the best way to resolve a problem to stop people from talking about the problem?

    Side Note: I have met people who actually believe that complaining creates problems.

  11. Another great idea the XFL will tun with…they will FINE the officials with horrible calls! This is how start up leagues FORCE the NFL to improve. Can’t wait for the new league to show more integrity than the NFL.

  12. Does everyone really believe that the problems really are the officials? After the Det/GB game, it sure seemed to me that it was more than an individual bias or ‘mistakes’. The GB TD that was down half a yard BEFORE the stripe was reviewed at Park Avenue and allowed. What are the odds that the officials are doing what they are supposed to be doing?

  13. Certain small market teams are happy to get jobbed
    since their slice of the pie is a healthy one REGARDLESS.
    A healthier slice when big market teams/more popular teams
    make the machine more money.

    Other small market teams just keep silent since the nfl
    is the business. Each team is just a cog in the machine.

    This new corrupt nfl (of the past 20 years) is more
    like professional wrestling or Harlem Globetrotters than a fair competition.

  14. I’m sure the broadcasters got a memo advising them they will not re-broadcast a play in which a penalty has occurred… because the new PI rules ‘are working as expected’

  15. Sorry but the Lions have any and every right to gipe about officiating. The officiating wasn’t the only contributing factor, but it was absolutely one significant contributing factor to the loss. That just can’t happen.

  16. They to add another ref on the field and make all of them year round employees. Then on the PI debacle they need to overturn obvious calls instead of waiting for the DB to knock the receivers helmet off and body slam them like Hulk Hogan before they can get a reversal…

  17. This reminder is a sign that the NFL has lost all credibility. If their officiating were so good, criticism would not burn NFL officials. Let’s face it, the NFL is horrific on all levels from racism where a disproportionate amount of the players are black against their total population to awful owners like the Washington Numbskin’s Daniel Snyder and Dallas Cowpoke Jerruh Jones, to officiating that is substandard, to pathetic snake-haired (long haired) players who pose a safety risk to open face helmet players with pellets of artificial turf being swung into those helmets like barbed wire.

  18. The first rule of NFL officiating : you do not talk about NFL officiating.

    The second rule of NFL officiating: you DO NOT TALK about NFL officiating.

    The third rule of NFL officiating: If this is your first time ever watching NFL football…..YOU have to officiate!

  19. I hate to admit it but for the first time in my life I agree with Rodger goodell!
    an organization needs to have a positive public image and having its integrity questioned by various players and coaches hurts the organization’s overall reputation.
    the NFL does a crappy job but the public criticism is wrong the criticism should be private.
    the NFL needs to have an honest internal discussion with the team’s but teams should not be criticizesing the officiating in public

  20. I never understood how “the league” could fine an owner for commenting on “the league” when he owns the flipping league. That will he like me hiring a someone for a business I own and than that employee sending me a memo on how I should run my business. Forget that mess. I’m surprise more owners don’t have an issue with this.

  21. im issuing a second reminder to the NFL that im done with sunday ticket because of how bad the officiating has become.

  22. The expected hosing has begun in Detroit. The officials have called a penalty on every third play against the Viking defense. The nfl is crooked.

  23. The NFL is the most profitable sports company still. If we want change, have to speak by not opening the wallets.

  24. I feel like the refs are silently protesting the PI replay by not over turning some of these obvious bad calls.

  25. We, the fans, were warned about the corruption that flows from Goodell/NYC when they falsified information (fake news) concerning air pressure in footballs vs Laws of Physics and used that false narrative to suspend a well known QB simply because he wins too many games and intereferes with NFL ‘Parity’ and the outcomes that the NFL/NYC ‘Prefer’ leading up to Super Bowl contestants.

    Unfortunately, we covered our ears and eyes and chose to support the corruption because we wanted it since it was not against our Team(s).

    Since we approved of that corruption, it is now in full swing to destroy the integrity of the NFL and the professionalism/talents of Players who thought that the field was a level. NFL Fans only serve one purpose to Goodel/NYC = money….

  26. Watch the Raider/ Packer game and tell me with a straight face don’t criticize the refs.

  27. Well here’s a reminder that it’s way past time for every play being reviewed from the booth. We’ve been given proof positive that the officials calls are very very subjective.

    Either that or stop caring about who wins or loses and just make believe it’s wrestling

  28. Every year for the past 15 years the Lions have been on the wrong side of calls. That is not bad officiating, that is biased officiating. Im a Browns fan and I see it so you best believe Detroit fan has known this for years. How can they continue to use integrity of the game and NFL in the same sentence is beyond me.

  29. How many times during the Colts/Texans game did the officials have to go on the PA system to announce the penalty they thought they saw wasn’t a penalty oops we’re picking up the flag and please add time to the clock that we wasted. In one the referee explained he accidentally blew the whistle but wasn’t set so he had to kill the play. Let me repeat that. ACCIDENTALLY BLEW HIS WHISTLE.

    These refs aren’t just bad it’s getting to the level that it’s almost like a Saturday Night Live parody of the replacement officials out there. It’s bad enough they got a pass last season for the excessive roughing the QB calls on clearly clean tackles.

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