The non-call by referees in the NFL playoff game a few weeks ago between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams has created a firestorm of criticism. If you recall, on a pass play very near the end of the game with the score tied, a Rams defensive back ran in to the Saints receiver before the ball arrived, and not only interfered with him, but also butted helmets with him. Both infractions were quite obvious.
Two referees were right at the point where the play occurred, but no penalty was called in either case. Had either infraction been called, the Saints would have had possession deep in the Rams territory with a first down, could have run the clock down to just a few seconds remaining and kicked a short field goal to win the game. Instead the game ended in a tie, and the Rams won in overtime.
Ironically, the Rams defender was fined for a helmet-to-helmet hit … without a penalty being called. According to the refs, there was no infraction, so how could he be fined?
In the course of a season, players are often punished for mistakes. Their team can be penalized, or players can be fined or suspended for a number of games. I imagine if a player has multiple serious infractions, his contract could even be torn up.
So why shouldn’t the same happen to referees who make flagrant mistakes? Why can’t the public be informed if an official is fined or suspended, or, if they continue to make obvious mistakes, lose their job? There has been nothing in the news about any punishment for either of the referees in the Saints-Rams game for their gross error. If that is so, we feel that it should be put into effect by the NFL.
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