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NFL officiating getting attention this postseason
Question of the Day
One example: This week marks the 10th anniversary of the “Tuck Rule Game,” when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady appeared to fumble the football in the last two minutes while trailing the Oakland Raiders, who recovered. Eventually, it was ruled an incomplete pass; New England retained possession, tied the score, and wound up winning in overtime.
One more: The last time the 49ers and Giants met in the playoffs, in January 2003, San Francisco rallied to win 39-38. In the final 10 seconds, the Giants lined up for a go-ahead field-goal attempt. But there was a bad snap, and the holder tried to throw a pass downfield to guard Rich Seubert, who had been announced as an eligible receiver. Before the ball arrived, Seubert was knocked down by a 49ers player, but another Giants lineman was penalized for being downfield illegally, and the game ended. A day later, the NFL _ Pereira, actually _ apologized, saying the correct call would have been offsetting penalties, allowing the Giants another kick.
“The reality is that things happen in 1/26th of a second in real time, and officials have to make judgment calls real quick,” Pereira says now, “and you don’t get a second chance. So there’s going to be inconsistency.”
Meeting with fans before one of last weekend’s playoff games, Goodell was asked a question about consistency in officiating, and he responded by saying the league will consider making about 10 officials full-time employees next season. They would be part of game crews and also spend time at the league’s New York headquarters.
Currently, all 120 or so game officials are part-time employees.
“Consistency is exactly what every club wants, and I think every fan wants. You want consistency in the way rules are applied,” Goodell said.
In the past, the NFL’s Anderson said, concerns were raised that it would be too expensive to make any officials year-round employees in a roughly six-month sport. But, he said, that’s “not a barrier anymore. … New people on the scene, including myself, are of the opinion that those types of impediments can be overcome under the right circumstances.”
The league’s collective bargaining agreement with officials expires during the upcoming offseason, so it could make sense to try to switch some now to full time.
“That’s an idea we’ve been thinking about for some time,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot of potential positives in terms of upgrading the communication and communicating points of emphasis … particularly with regard to the critical calls.”
Pereira cautioned against overreacting to a play such as Jennings’ from last weekend, estimating officials get about a half-dozen ultimate rulings wrong among the 315 or so times instant replay is used throughout a season.
And there are some who are impressed by how many calls are made correctly.
“I’m not one to harp on officiating very much,” said NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner, who won one Super Bowl and played in two others. “Some of those bang-bang plays, it’s hard to tell. … The game is so fast. And to get as many right as they do? They impress me.”
There are all sorts of factors involved, including what replay angles are available from whichever TV network is showing a particular game.
In Philadelphia 35-31 loss at Atlanta in Week 2 of the regular season, for example, a second-half pass from Michael Vick was intercepted by Kelvin Hayden, who made a diving grab, got up and ran 2 yards before he was tackled. NBC showed three replays before the Falcons ran the next play, but none made clear whether the ball bounced before Hayden caught it, so Eagles coach Andy Reid decided not to challenge the call. The Falcons quickly scored a touchdown.
During a commercial break after that TD, NBC found a fourth replay, which showed Hayden didn’t make a clean catch. That replay eventually was aired on TV _ but by then it was too late, of course, for Reid to throw his red flag. An NBC producer later apologized to the team.
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