It’s no secret that the officiating in the NFL has been rather lame to say the least for a decent amount of time now. Backed up by a league that has made levying unfair and frivolous fines against players a near weekly festival, zebras have gone from prey to predator almost every week at some point or another in every game. But last Monday night, The San Francisco Forty Niners were a wounded baby caribou and Tony Corrente’s officiating crew were a carnivorous pride of rabid striped ponies.
That analogy would work, except that once a predator catches its prey, the suffering usually ends rather quickly. Not so for San Francisco, whose excruciating agony accounted for a combined 10 penalties for 98 yards amid a hailstorm of yellow, the death blow coming on a botched call before the final play of the game.
Just off the top of my head, I’ll try to break this down; an offensive Pass Interference call on Isaac Bruce that was very questionable, several non-called offside penalties on Arizona, an offensive Pass Interference call on Anquan Boldin that absolutely never happened, several “picked up” flags that were thrown it seemed purely out of habit, a mysterious penalty right before Shaun Hill’s spike that was never explained, and the clock never reset, and possibly most disturbing, the non called BLATANT facemask on Michael Robinson, his helmet ripped from his head with both hands by a defender as he went to the ground to end the game. (By the way, down by contact should mean that the defender’s contact CAUSED the ball carrier to go to the ground, not that the ball carrier lost his footing and as a coincidence a defenders glove whiffed the edge of his jersey.)
Okay, I’m a fairly reasonable, intelligent, great looking person, I get it. Refs are human. They make mistakes. The pace of the game is faster than it looks, etc. To err is human. To continually and consistently blow calls on both sides of the ball, causing catastrophic losses and disinterest in the game by the fans is detrimental to one of the finest institutions mankind has ever formed. This is not just about San Francisco anymore. It’s about us as paying fans being raped of our game. We shell out good money for our DirecTV and our season passes. We invest lots of energy and time into our favorite teams every year. Why are we being robbed of a product that’s as fine as the price that we pay?
Think of it this way, since when has the NFL allowed anything less than the best players to make rosters? Since when has the NFL given free passes to coaches to keep on coaching when they continually fail? (Okay, beside Mike Nolan) Have the extremely high standards of the NFL ever allowed even a sub par piece of protective equipment to be used when it was known that there was a better one out there? The answers are never, never, and no, there are full committees and billions of dollars dedicated to finding the very best of all of these things, and if something isn’t working, it is replaced with a better one. So why should the officials be the one part of our game that is allowed to be under our standards?
This week VP of officiating Mike Pereira came on NFL network as he always does and defended the calls that were made in that game, skipping right over the part, as he always does, where Michael Robinsons face was twisted off. All through the game the field looked like big bird was shoved through a box fan, and the one time a flag should’ve flown, you couldn’t find a piece of yellow to save your ass, and its not the only game, the only day, or the only year that it has happened.
I’m not one to dump my feelings on the internet without offering a solution, so here’s what I propose. Speak out. Not just Niner fans but fans of football. Anyone reading or hearing about this article pass it on, email it to others and encourage those you watch with to do the same. Write, email, and call the NFL, the Commissioner, The President of Officiating, and the owner of your favorite team. Tell them that this offseason we need to hire younger, full time referees. Tell them we need officials that are instructed and educated about the game of football and its rules. Tell them we need a simplification of the rulebook. Tell them something must be done. If nothing is, mark my words, it will affect your team eventually.<–>