Did you see that blatant foul at the end of the Vikings-Cowboys game last night? If not, there’s a tweet with a gif of the play below. How can the NFL excuse this as “not a penalty” and that the refs “didn’t see that call”? Honestly, they can’t but the particular ref, who should have called it but didn’t, was not in the correct position to see that call.
He was just a few steps behind the play and looking at an awkward angle where he could see the left side of Bradford but not the far side, where the foul occurred. The real culprit on this play is the back judge and goal line judge, both had a clear enough angle to call the foul, and the back judge is supposed to call that as well.
This is just the latest in a long line of missed/bad calls by the NFL ref’s, and per the usual, every football journalist has a take. Most of them are the form of either: make the ref’s full time or make the rules easier to understand. Those are both good ideas but I have a more controversial one, but that will be discussed after I examine both of the other options.
Making the ref’s full time is a great idea, in theory. In practice it may not be as good of an idea, all crews only work one game, for about 4 hours a week. What would they do the rest of the week to earn that pay, watch the film? They already do that and get critiqued, and graded on every game performance, then why aren’t they getting better? The game has just too fast and too much athleticism, as well as all the new rules and regulations on how the game is played that it’s hard to notice everything.
The rules need to be fixed, again, right? Yes, they need to loosen everything up again, it’s hard for these players to play the game they grew up playing then get coddled and flagged for every little thing. They need to go back and change the rules to make it so there are not as many flags and that refs do not take the game over. They are also scared that they will make the wrong call or not a call on specific people.
Which another problem is that there is a perceived double standard in the league, such as players like Tom Brady or another big name like that would garner the flag but since it was Sam Bradford, he didn’t get the call. This is wrong because Bradford did the same thing Brady would do and get in the ref’s face and complain, he still didn’t get the call but that’s besides the point. I do not believe that refs purposely give calls to players or “miss” calls on others, but I could be wrong, these ref’s should be unbiased and just make the right call, they are also human, however.
The real problem is instant replay, specifically how much they expanded it in recent years. The only reason that people can criticize the calls on the field is because they see it from many different angles and also many times. The refs do not get that luxury, they only get the angle that they have and only live action, which most people do not see the full action anyway. For example, last night at the sports bar that I was at watching the game all of us thought that Bradford just threw the ball away, no one saw that penalty at first glance. Only after replay did we see it, the refs have no control over replays because the booth has to call for it, but they also can’t review for penalties either.
Yes, the ref’s miss calls, so do everyone when the games are live and we are watching. Does that mean that there is a fix? There are a few but with every possible fix comes something that we would have to give up. To increase the replay rules to check for penalties would be a great addition, but would giving up the time it takes to review it enough to warrant the addition? Making the games longer would make the fan’s turn away even more than the already are. What about adding a extra official, maybe in a press box or even first row in the stands, to look for certain plays (hits on the QB, pass interference or moments away from the play) but would adding the possibility that they miss that call as well and paying for another person be reasonable for the NFL to do it? What about making the ref’s full time so they have nothing else to worry about? Well I mean they are human and have off-the-field things as well that can happen and stay on their mind, just like players.
is there a correct solution? Maybe, Richard Sherman has some ideas, and it seems like the NFL is finally ready to talk about it and try to discover the best one. The real question is how much will any solution actually help the ref’s if the real problem is that the fans have much more information than them, as well as the fan’s “knowing more than the ref’s”? No solution will be perfect but I believe a Stanford education, with Sherman, more than some other guys who give out one or four-game suspensions for domestic violence.