The League

Emil Steiner
Editor and Blogger

Emil Steiner

The author of NFL Crime Watch and Founding Editor of The League.

Let the Players Speak

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Perhaps it's hearing presidential debate moderator Tom Brokaw admit that he's "just a paid employee," but it seems decidedly un-American to penalize an athlete for decrying a blown call.

Referees make mistakes. It is the nature of their business, and barring the introduction of robotic technology, we're stuck with it. However just because the system is in imperfect why should the NFL, Mike Pereira and Roger Goodell forbid criticism?

Sure, some argue that for the integrity of the game a dynamic of respect must be exist between players and refs. That if players criticized umpire performance it might compromise the game, or even provoke vindictive behavior from officials.

Nonetheless, I feel that forcing an artificial silence will ultimately create greater animosity. It is akin to telling students not to speak out when a teacher stands by a text book saying the world is flat. And that if they do the principal will fine them. Eventually the administration begins to look ridiculous. Eventually the players and fans will lose respect for the refs.

When an official makes an idiotic call, and that idiotic call cost a team the game and, as a result, players money, it is even more idiotic to expect the victims to lie to reporters about how they feel about it. It's worse still to punish them financially for being honest.

If the goal of the NFL is to create fair competition Goodell owes it to the players, the officials and the League's millions of fans to end this draconian policy.

By Emil Steiner  |  October 8, 2008; 11:01 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Integrity Means Silence | Next: Accountability Please

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NFL is a national empire controlled by Kings. If they had press conferences every week for officials, it would reveal how a) difficult it is for officials to make the calls w/o replay technology and b) how officials do miss a lot of calls. There is more room for controversy if the pubic hold the really officials accountable. They have press conferences for coaches and players. Why not for officials. It is okay; they are human but so are every professionals.

Posted by: Empire | October 8, 2008 2:16 PM

what is irratating about ref's are most of the calls they blow happen right in front of them. If they are at a bad angle, I can sort of understand making a bad call, but come on, it it is rught in front of their face there is no excuse. As a Steeler fan, i feel Harrison had the right to be upset. I was screaming at the TV because not only the roughing the passer call, but the Pass Interference call on Pittsburgh was way off. The replays clearly showed the ball was overthrown and out of reach before the Jacksonville paley was touched. Both players were clearly looking for the ball.

Posted by: Ken | October 8, 2008 4:27 PM

Agreed, let the players and coaches express themselves without being fined. The current system does not work. I am a Ravens fan and for the second week in a row bad calls have influenced the outcomes of our games. I watch a game like this in either conference at least once a week. The San Diego loss to Denver was one of the worst. The NFL needs professional officials and a replay system like that used in the Big Ten. Bad officiating and dinosaurs on the NFL Rules Committee are hurting the game. In the meantime, let everyone speak their minds without incurring fines. There is nothing wrong with criticizing a broken system.

Posted by: maxfli | October 8, 2008 6:40 PM

The players after game statement should be nothing more than "I disagree with the call and I'm disappointed that it changed the outcome of the game." Anything else is WHINING. I will not provide an audience for that. Daycare is at the nanny's house, not my living room. THat is the bottom line, correct, to get me to watch more commercials... The other network is only a remote click away.

Posted by: Krooz | October 9, 2008 12:32 AM

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