2023-02-04 · 3 min read · NFL/Football
NFL facing an officiating issue

Keith Allison |

The Super Bowl matchup is all set as the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles clash next Sunday in Arizona, but one of the talking points following the championship games last weekend has been centred around officiating.
Beginning in the NFC game, which seemed like a foregone conclusion when Brock Purdy went down with an injury, there was a controversial moment in the opening quarter when the Eagles’ DeVonta Smith made what appeared to be a brilliant one-handed grab on fourth down.
It took a bit for Fox Sports to find a replay of that play, but when it came up, it clearly showed that the ball touched the ground, and it should have been a turnover on downs.
To their credit, Philly huddled quickly and got the next play off before it could be reviewed, and it eventually paid off as that drive resulted in a touchdown.
There was a questionable roughing the kicker call on San Francisco’s Jordan Mason, which came with a 15-yard penalty.
However, the replays showed that he just ran into Brett Kern’s kicking leg, meaning it should’ve been only a five-yard flag but no automatic first down.
Over in Kansas City hours later for the AFC title game, there were plenty of Cincinnati Bengals fans who were none too pleased about the refereeing in the second half of that close encounter.
First, there was the Chief’s mulligan on third down when an official tried to stop play before the snap.
Ultimately that didn’t amount to much as the Chiefs wound up punting the ball, but there was plenty more for Cincy fans to be upset about later on.
A rather soft pass interference call against Mike Hilton extended the Chiefs’ drive a little later in that half.
Then there was the late hit out of bounds on Patrick Mahomes, which set up Kansas City to boot the game-winning field goal and advance to the Super Bowl.
That was the correct decision in that situation, however, Bengals fans were none too pleased, mainly due to a lack of consistency on calls throughout that game, as their team was flagged nine times, with the Chiefs being penalized on only four occasions.
Officiating in the NFL has been under the microscope for years and given how poorly many of them have been in this postseason, it is still an issue the league needs to resolve.
Weeks before the playoffs began, numerous executives and coaches called out the NFL for several questionable decisions which seemed to go Seattle’s way in overtime against the Los Angeles Rams, a game that had the Seahawks lost would have sent the Detroit Lions into the postseason.
The league’s competition committee is aware of one source describing the ref’s performance in that encounter as “the worst officiated game of the year.”
Among other things, in that game, Jalen Ramsey was flagged for unnecessary roughness on Geno Smith late in the fourth quarter, but DK Metcalf was not penalized when he poked his hand in Ramsey’s face following the previous penalty despite being in clear sight of the back judge.
Quandre Diggs then got away with a taunting penalty in the overtime period of that game.
In the opening game of the Wild Card Round, Asante Samuel got away with some blatant pass interference calls in the opening half of the Chargers-Jaguars encounter, which makes that Jags’ 27-point comeback look that much more impressive.
From the infamous 2012 Fail Mary blown call to the Myles Jack fumble recovery that was whistled down when it should’ve been a touchdown in the 2017 AFC title game, poor officiating seems to have become par for the course in the NFL.
It’s clearly a problem, but with every problem, there is a potential solution, and in the case of league officials, it seems obvious what should be done.
Many NFL referees are hired on a part-time basis, something which could be a part of the problem as you can argue that part-timers might just be doing it for extra income, which is fine for them, but with so much at stake in the league each week, it might not be the best way to do things.
While only hiring full-time staff won’t eliminate all missed calls, it seems like it’d be the best plan of action in the future and only have those zebra-striped officials committed to this job for the long haul.
Reffing in the NFL should not be considered a fluff position to collect a few extra bucks, especially given the millions of fans watching worldwide and the amount of money up for grabs with each game for players, coaches and fans.
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By: Joel Lefevre


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