Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NATIONAL FOOTBAL LEAGUE ; Week after Week, Officials Made a Mess for All to See

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NATIONAL FOOTBAL LEAGUE ; Week after Week, Officials Made a Mess for All to See

Article excerpt

If it felt like there were lots of officiating gaffes during this NFL season, that's because there were. Enough to prompt Commissioner Roger Goodell to pledge that "no stone will be left unturned to improve the way games are called. All of the accumulated mistakes reached a tipping point, so much so that referees will be able to consult with league VP of Officiating Dean Blandino during playoff games.

Who knows what other changes could be in store moving forward? Everyone, it seems, has a theory about how the NFL can cut down on the one time, two or more per game that players, coaches and fans throw their hands in the air and wonder how an "obvious rule violation could be ignored. Or the game clock could keep running when it shouldn't. Or a team could be penalized when it did nothing wrong.

"There's a lot of room for improvement, Washington Redskins defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois said. "The officials don't seem to understand that the calls they're making are affecting games and can affect playoff spots.

He presented a couple of changes he'd like to see:

* Give Goodell the power to fine or suspend officials who make glaring mistakes.

* Switch around the crews, so they're different from week to week, something Goodell himself has spoken about.

"I would love that. Most of these crews have been in the league longer than I've been alive. Break these crews apart and start mixing or mingling them. For 17 weeks, change them. In the playoffs? Change them. Don't let them be together, Jean Francois said. "It's human nature. If you've been together forever, and one of you misses something, they might cover for each other. But if they don't know each other, they're not as comfortable with each other, and they won't cover for each other.

In an essay for Sports Illustrated's Monday Morning Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman offered four suggestions of his own:

* Simplify the rulebook;

* Add an eighth, full-time official;

* Change the officials' spots on the field;

* Improve player-official communication.

Ideas such as those were bandied about frequently over the past several months, in part because of the perception this was the worst- officiated season in memory. …

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