The League


Why Punish Players For Ripping the Refs?

"You don't make a call like that in a situation like that, c'mon. Unless [the official] might have money on it," Pittsburgh LB James Harrison said of a questionable roughing the passer call that nearly cost the Steelers the game last Sunday against Jacksonville. Most experts agree that the call was ridiculous, and that Harrison will most likely be fined for his criticism of it. But is that fair? Why can't players speak out when they disagree with an official?

Posted by Emil Steiner on October 8, 2008 10:35 AM

Alex35332: I think it is all about balance. To me the proper place to do a challenge of the refs call is on the field. However there are a great many...

GMan54: Making a comment in the heat of the battle doesn't harm the integrity of the game. However, criticism of a call after the game particularly ...

hb: Alittle criticism, then a push, then a shove, then a head butt, then..........

Make a Comment  |  All Comments (20)

Legal Beaver :

This isn't a democracy, it is a dictatorship. Comparisons to the contrary are just naive. The NFL is king, the Refs its enforcers and the players its subjects. If you mess with that it things will spiral out of control. We want a game with rules to maintain the quality of the product. And when a player accuses a ref of betting it destroys that.

Replace Them :

Get rid of them all. You could totally replace refs with machines and sensors. They would do the job better and save the players, coaches and fans money. Hochuli must go.

Jimbo :

Once the players starting dumping on the refs in the press then the kids will copy their "heros". The poor sportsmanship of the "pros" has already infected most of kid's sports, respect for the officials shouldn't be undermined.

Sunny :

If players can make comments about the refs, then the refs should also be able to crticize the players and the way they have played the game ! That would only be fair, right ?

Dave, CA :

Absolutely fine the refs, then if they do it again, fire them. If they blow the game they should be held accountable, 1 strike and you are out. It makes me sick to think Hochuli is still allowed to wear a whistle.

Darby :

Yes refs should be held accountable, but it is not the player who should hold them accountable. That is the leagues job. There is a whole system in place for grading officiating.
Refs hold a position of power over the players. It is not a dictatorship persay but they have to be able to call the shots and have their authority respected. Take that away and it isn't a game anymore.

apresvue :

The refs are held accountable. The bad call--if it was that--will earn the referee demerits. At the end of the year, his misses will be counted up and he will be ranked. Miss enough, and he will be fired.

As to public criticism, I suggest the league give the players and coaches 24 hours--as Jim Zorn of the Redskins gives his team. Bitch all you want, but at the end of the period, 'nuff said.

Manoa :

The NFL referees are essentially volunteers with a median "salary" of $27,000 with no benefits. It is amazing that they are as good as they are when they are not well paid professionals. Their accuracy compares favorably to MLB Umpires who are full-time unionized employees with pensions. Under these circumstances fans need to give the Refs a break. Nobody notices a perfectly called game or even an exceptional career, like Hochuli's. Everyone notices a single mistake. It's the nature of the job, and it is why the players cannot be allowed to criticize the refs. They have to have absolute authority on the field and allowing criticism would undermine that. Leave to the sportswriters and fans to dish out the criticism, the League to impose discipline. Keep the players out of it.

Top Dog :

Football refs are amateurs, that is the problem. They should be paid and kept as full timer workers. The incentive system is not sufficient.
MLB and NBA have pros and those sports are less complicated than football. NFL officials have to be everywhere. There aren't enough of them so they rely have the safety net of instant replay.
Don't blame the players for talking up though. The NFL is the one to blame.

riverside :

Gee, complaining and whining about umpires and referees are as American as apple pie. It's something learned at a young age and carried proudly through life. This is what we do best! There certainly should not be fines.

Jesus :

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a tax collector.

Matthew 18:15-17

been there done that :

Judging from the tone of most of the comments, it is apparent that very few people understand 1) the role of officials, 2) how much effort it takes to get to the NFL, and 3) how difficult it is to make multiple snap judgements and interpretations on every single play in a game played by some of the world's best athletes. My guess is that if every time a player who botched an assignment or missed a tackle or dropped a ball got accused of gambling, the union would scream bloody murder. I guarantee all of you that you could easily get a taste of what officiating is all about. Just got off the sofa, put away the cheetos and volunteer to work a few Pop Warner games.

Chris :

I think questioning a call can be acceptable, but questioning a referee's integrity has no place in professional sports. To say he must have been betting on the game is not professional and disrespectful. The referees don't ask if players are betting on games when they drop passes or fumble the ball.

It's not reasonable anyone to be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Imagine if an umpire got 30 percent of his calls correct. That's considered good for a batting average. There are different standards, but we can't expect anyone to be perfect.

Moses :

Jesus is right, as always! Let's not turn the other cheeks on those no good zebras. Smite them with the cane and rod, thrash them with weeds. It is the only way we can exorcise the demons from the booth

bob kraus :

We might as well talk about baseball umps too. A few weeks ago Jim Edmunds got the heave- ho from Ed Rapuano. Rapuano said that Jim protested a call. Everyone, reporters, etc. thought it was a bad call, but so long Edmunds.

GoodScout :

This continues our downward slide of sportsmanship and civility. While no official is perfect, they represent the integrity of the rules and the game. Constantly ripping on them simply undermines the integrity of the rules ... and the game itself.

Sagrilarus :

As a kid my coach taught me that saying "you suck ump" under your breath would get you thrown out of the game, but looking him square in the eye and clearly saying, "with all due respect sir, that was a crappy call" would just get you a stern rebuke.

Criticizing a call is very different from criticizing the caller. Players that can't figure out where that line is should get straightened out pretty quickly. Given the amount of money riding on the results of individual plays it's important to keep control of the situation.

Alex35332 :

I think it is all about balance. To me the proper place to do a challenge of the refs call is on the field. However there are a great many calls that cannot be challenged. So here is what I would do.
Increase the number of coaches challenges available to 3(1 per-time out). Allow for more penalties and plays to be challengeable, almost everything should be challengeable, except maybe holding as then you can challenge any play and probably get a call. Take away almost all the blow the play dead at the penalty moments, except ones like offside calls, the refs should let the play get played out then go back to the flag that way a questionable fumble can’t be argued because “X”team gave up. I also think that the booth should be able to call for a review at any point through the 4th quarter.
Now some mistakes will still occur, Randal El's catching the ball, getting up untouched and running, but being called down. Not sure how you can undo that it’s just bad eyesight by the ref.
As for player’s commenting, I agree that as long as they are respectful they should be allowed to say things like, I thought it was a bad call. But no going overboard.
The final thing I would change, the NFL should publish weekly via press release, a list of plays sent into the league for review by all 32 teams, and their response to how/why that play was called or if they think it was a blown call. They should also make the list of Referee Demerits public annually. Old saying, transparency leads to integrity.

GMan54 :

Making a comment in the heat of the battle doesn't harm the integrity of the game. However, criticism of a call after the game particularly after a lost is worthy of censure. Mistakes occur on both sides, whether it's a missed block or a missed call. Review of both should be made by the office of the team and the league. The important aspect of the game is maintaining the professional quality of the sport. It is not bush-league or amateurs that we're discussing.

hb :

Alittle criticism, then a push, then a shove, then a head butt, then.......

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