Troy Vincent sends pep-talk letter to game officials

NFL: AUG 25 Preseason - Chiefs at Bears
Getty Images

It’s no secret that the NFL has an officiating problem. The folks who do the job miss too many calls, and the NFL persistently refuses to embrace technologies that would help reduce and/or rectify the errors.

Upgrades that would truly assist the officials when it come to getting the calls right are expensive. Giving them a public pat on the back is free.

Via Judy Battista of NFL Media (an outlet owned and operated by the league), NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent sent a letter to all game officials on Friday. It looks and reads like a pep talk, as the 18-week season closes in one the midway point.

In the letter, Vincent expresses his “gratitude and appreciation” for the “commitment to excellence” of the various game officials.

“Expectations are always high,” Vincent wrote. “Perfection is demanded from all quarters. Like with players and coaches, officiating is not always perfect, but you are the best in the world as you aim for perfection and achieve excellence. No one knows more than you the pressures of game administration and ‘getting it right’ with one look at full speed, then every call dissected with multiple angles in slow motion. With 22 players on the field at once, you must make multiple decisions pre-snap, and after the play. Overall, you do an excellent job.”

Vincent’s comment is entirely accurate, but it underscores the failure of the league to devise and implement vehicles for bridging the gap between the full-speed, naked-eye action the officials observe and everything we see at home. The league is either too cheap to pay for the necessary upgrades, or too concerned that they’d screw it all up — like they did when pass interference calls and non-calls became subject to replay review in 2019.

And as to Vincent’s “best in the world” comment, we’re only 10 years removed from Commissioner Roger Goodell believing that the NFL game officials could be easily replaced with officials from lower levels of the sport, with no significant reduction in the quality of the officiating. As explained in Playmakers, some in the league office were amazed that the replacement officials experience during the 2012 lockout wasn’t even more of a disaster than it turned out to be.

“You are under incredible scrutiny,” Vincent continued in his letter. “We understand that. That’s the world we live in. There will always be tight judgment calls that will generate controversy. In working closely with you, I want to commend you for the tireless game preparation and your commitment to consistency and excellence.”

Again, that rings hollow. How tireless can the game preparation be when the officials have other jobs? When the league isn’t willing to pay what it would take to get part-time officials to become full-time employees?

Whatever the “commitment to consistency and excellence,” it’s undermined by the reality that NFL officials are for the most part moonlighting. Working a side hustle that pays them well to travel the country and be in the middle of the action for the biggest sport around.

And as to the “incredible scrutiny” that officials are facing due to the “world we live in,” that world have become infiltrated by legalized gambling. The scrutiny goes with the territory. It’s territory the league has embraced, given the many millions it can and will earn from its various sports book partners.

But don’t take our word for it. In 2009, when the NFL fought in court to keep Delaware from adopting legalized gambling, Commissioner Roger Goodell said this: “Normal incidents of the game such as bad snaps, dropped passes, turnovers, penalty flags and play calling inevitably will fuel speculation, distrust and accusations of point-shaving and game-fixing.”

That’s were the “incredible scrutiny” comes from. The “world we live in” has been created in part by the NFL’s stunning about-face when it come to legalized gambling, from hating it to loving it. And to profiting mightily from it.

So, please, spare us the pep talks and the P.R. ploys. Telling the officials they’re doing a great job and leaking the letter to the media is a far cry from the officials actually doing a great job. And it’s an even farther cry from spending the money necessary to truly improve the officiating function, so that the scrutiny doesn’t result in official governmental oversight of the sport, and so that there’s no way the NFL can have its own Tim Donaghy scandal.

37 responses to “Troy Vincent sends pep-talk letter to game officials

  1. It’s been obvious for 50 years that we the NFL should be using full-time officiating staff. Player dieticians are more deeply employed than those who are tasked with managing the game and ensuring fair play and honest outcomes. And they could that for a fraction of Goodell’s salary.

  2. Give coaches a “challenge anything” flag that they can use once per game. Maybe this comes from the 2-challenge allotment. Once per game the coach can challenge anything, including, ahem, an obvious missed facemask call on a critical Super Bowl play.

    Train the coaches that the bar is VERY high for overturning calls here.. it has to be Rams/Saints NFC Championship level or ahem, obvious missed facemask call on a critical Super Bowl play obvious.

  3. Great, now a weekend of flags thrown in every game over and over!!! The NFL really knows how to make a mess

  4. I don’t always agree with you Mike, but you’re one hundred percent correct here. Everytimee I do agree with you, I get nervous that the NFL will make NBC get rid of you. Be careful Mike. You’re trying to make transparency exist and that should be applauded, but it is dangerous.

  5. “The folks who do the job miss too many calls” this is completely wrong. They don’t miss too many calls, the fans just expect too much now with replay of every play and no ability to correct missed penalty calls. We’ve seen Goodell try to replace the officials and it was a disaster. For the most part, these officials are hard working and excellent and are unjustifiably bashed for their rare mistakes, and the NFL has largely refused to adapt challenge or sky judges or anything to actually help the missed calls be fixed so that fans arent as frustrated.

  6. NFL needs full time officials that do post game press conferences after every game and spend the week watching film and practicing.

  7. The NFL front offices are too slow to accept new ideas. Most of the changes that the NFL has made came from what the NCAA has done for years. I still say the NFL should adopt the NCAA overtime rules. Makes it fair for both teams.

  8. One thing that nobody talks about except maybe in chat rooms and I kind of was reminded of it when a player was recently traded who is suspended for betting on games – How can you sit your best player(s) when there is so much riding on each game betting wise? It is bad enough when games turn on obvious bad calls or no calls. The NFL is now doing expedited reviews to speed up the game – they need to do one other thing as far as I am concerned. Firstly put a ref in the box with a mike connected to the ref and when there is an obvious missed call – tell somebody and also put a mike in the linesman ear and when the time clock is out call it so that the linesman throws the flag – this obvious look at the clock and look at the ball and then miss obvious delay of games is ridiculous in this day and age. They dont even have any linesman calling the lines in tennis – all automatic and the NFL cant get the time clock/snap done correctly?

  9. Having officiated the game at a much lower level it isn’t easy to make the right call every time. Much of what you see (or don’t) depends on where you are standing in relation to the infraction (or non-infraction) and you AREN’T going to see everything. Also you need to call only what you ACTUALLY SEE, not what you “think” you saw.

    I think there are some simple changes that can be made without turning the game into a 4-5 hour official replay farce.

    1) Professional full time refs. That way THEY are having meetings during the week to go over blown calls and points of emphasis and everybody is on the same page.
    2) If you want coaches to be able to challenge ANY call then give them one per half to use, if they get it right then they get a second challenge. That will make them think long and hard before they toss a flag to review a ‘spot of the ball’.
    3) Allow a TMO (as they call it rugby) to be able to call an infraction from the TV booth ONLY if it is a personal foul\15 yard penalty that was missed or to overrule a non-existant one that was called.
    4) Any calls from the booth have to be CLEAR AND OBVIOUS. If you have to debate whether or not something happened or look at super slow frame by frame replay to figure it out then you go with the call on the field.

    The reality is there are minor missed fouls on EVERY play that honestly have NO effect on the play itself and if you want to try and insert those into being called by the booth then you might as well stop watching the game because it will be unwatchable.

  10. They’re the best refs in the world. They’re better than ever. The difference is the video technology that allows us to see all the correct calls is just so much better than it’s ever been before. The bad guesses haven’t gotten worse. The real question would be why do they make the ref’s guess, when we get to see the correct call from our sofa’s. Don’t ask. Don’t tell. Right?

  11. Troy Vincent was a solid CB for Eagles him and HOF Brian Dawkins were awesome. Dawkins was so dope, he was a Ronnie Lott enforcer type. Loved watching B Dawk as a 9ER fan but, the most laughable thing is John Runyan the enforcement of dirty play

    Runyan was the most dirtiest pick off the pile late hitting player for his whole career. It’s laughable he rules the roost in NFL discipline

  12. Home run by Florio. Again, Goodell has not done a good job. He’s just rode a wave of fandom that produced big revenue. History will remember.

  13. Everyone in these games practice and study year around and then you bring in part time refs. Does this make any sense? Full time young officials, makes a lot more sense than a bunch of old bankers and attorneys. I realize this is expensive, but when you have a 9-billion-dollar a year business, you should do what you can to get the calls right. Younger men and technology would solve most of this problem.

  14. I’d love to see some insight in to all the NFL is doing well, and maybe a little less of the negativity directed at the league. I mean they are, after all, what brings all of us so much pleasure every week of the season and now nearly the entire year. They must be doing something right don’t ya think?

  15. The eye in the sky box offical would be way to expensive. You’d have to pay one about 2 million per season to sit in the box to correct the obvious and egregious bad calls.
    You would need 16 sky refs each week. 16 times 2 million would be 32 million per season just to get the correct call. That’s almost half of what Goodell makes.
    Jesus can you imagine paying 32 million a year just to have 16 SKY REFS sit in front of a TV and watch the network replay to overturn the obvious blown calls? Sounds totally ridiculous just to get the right call.

  16. Delayed flags and Home Town Crowd Influence ..also..wait..Time Slots! Pressure to keep highlighted games competitive/if not interesting…Let’s not fool ourselves that the Zebras don’t focus in confidently when a play matters

  17. Millions Of Dollars $$$ are made every literal second an NFL game is being played.
    But, gotta keep costs low and money grab as often as possible. Same brain tanks can’t see the game deteriorating…

  18. theres 100 ways to make officiating better. the more the nfl continues to ignore them the more the conspiracies ring true. and no amount of back patting should sway any fan opinion

  19. Perhaps the league could send a “letter” to the officials regarding the embarrassing roughing the passer calls. I’ve been watching the NFL for close to 50 years and just shake my head with some of these calls. What has happened to the NFL? I’m all for player safety but there has to be room for common sense.

  20. The product the NFL displays is tainted by the quality of officiating. This is a multi-billion commodity continuously mocked for telling us ‘we didn’t see what we saw’. The goal of perfection will never be achieved, but to keep selling a product known to be flawed without attempting to improve it, is beyond comprehension. True, they own Sunday and are on the way to claiming Monday and Thursday, but they won’t have a monopoly forever. GET IT RIGHT!

  21. The average salary for an official is listed as $205,000 with an additional $20k 401k contribution. If the average household income in the US is a little over $60k, how much would it need to be to before it could be considered enough for a full time job?

  22. The NFL Officials have been blowing calls or blind to them horribly for 30 years or more and always had a crew or two on the payroll infamous for lousing games up with bad/non calls. NOW that legal gambling is front & center in lining the pockets of the NFL elite – look for these same blind, oblivious Officials to cause more havoc at game time.
    And with huge amounts of money at stake tell me ALL these NFL Officials are in now incorruptible?

  23. The Officiating is at an all time low. The NFL will ruin this game due to their arrogant behavior believing they know everything. As long as the money keeps coming in nothling will change. Speaking of cheap how about Thurs. night football on Amazon Prime. The quality of the picture reminds me of watching the Boston Bruins in the 1970’s on channel 38 with round UFH antenna and the snow covering the screen.

  24. “Good job guys, keep those RTPs coming. We are on target for a good year thanks to your good contributions.”

  25. Yes, but when do the “coachings” occur before each game? 3 hours, 2? The night before?

    Vincent has been caught cheating before. Once with Framegate II with Goodell in a federal court and again in SB52 on the Clement incompletion that was called a TD as Steratore smirked.

    A “pep talk” from Vincent is a reminder to do what they are told.

  26. The average salary for an official is listed as $205,000 with an additional $20k 401k contribution. If the average household income in the US is a little over $60k, how much would it need to be to before it could be considered enough for a full time job?


    That’s a lot of money. I would take it.

    Please understand though, the refs are the gatekeepers of the NFL. Quality reffing is what separates the NFL from the NBA, etc. We saw the replacement refs.

    The NFL generates 17+ billion per year. The refs make far less than player league minimum, but the refs are more important than a scrub on the bench. I’m fine with refs being paid better, too, but I think it’s critical they are full time. Meaning, the refs are working on their craft and their bodies year round. They don’t try switching back and forth to CPA every six months. There are many ways to improve the quality of reffing and the NFL does next to nothing.

  27. Technology is not the solution. The Refs are going to call what they want to call regardless. Bottle gate is a perfect example. The technology for review wasn’t working and the Browns ran a play. By rule, the previous play can no longer be reviewed. The refs reviewed it anyway. Then the refs just decided the game was over when the game was not over. What changes came out of that debacle? Zero. Nothing. If the team that should win impacts the NFL’s bottom line, the refs can have a big impact on the outcome. Patriots tuck rule, and so many times the refs literally walking Tom Brady down the field with phantom P.I. calls. NFL = rigged because at the end of the day, it’s a business. For those waiting for a Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns Super Bowl, don’t hold your breathe because it will never happen. EVER.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.