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Poor officiating has been an issue all season in the NFL, and not just for any specific team either. There’s been excessive taunting, non-existent defensive pass interference, and push-offs by wide receivers not being called.
The excessive taunting calls have been heavily criticized by fans and the media alike. I don’t think any football fan will argue that legitimate taunting should be removed from the game. There’s no need for it. You should never disrespect an opponent. However, what is being called taunting, is not taunting. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was called for taunting in the week 11 game against the Cowboys for pointing at a Cowboys defender and was also fined. There are countless other examples as well. The taunting calls have been more relaxed here lately which makes me wonder if the league quietly asked the officials to relax the calls.
One non-Chiefs example of a game that was poorly officiated was the week 9 Steelers vs. Bears game. Cassius March had a controversial taunting call after a sack on third down when all he did was stare down the bench of the Steelers. There was also a low-block call on the Bears that called back a Justin Fields touchdown. Additionally, there was a missed late hit on Justin Fields that forced the Bears to kick a 65-yard game-winning field goal that fell short, instead of a 50-yard field goal which is within former Chief Cairo Santos’ range.
Then we have the week 17 Chiefs vs. Bengals game which was one the most poorly officiated games in my recent memory. Nothing against Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate Ja’Marr Chase or the Bengals as a whole, Chase is a good receiver and the Bengals are a good team, however, there were multiple push-offs by Chase that weren’t called. There also was the phantom pass interference call on L’Jarius Sneed on 3rd down that eventually led to the Bengals scoring a touchdown that gave them their first lead. There were multiple other examples but I’m not gonna list them all because we all remember them.
So far in the playoffs, we’ve seen some poor officiating as all. It began in the Bengals vs. Raiders game Saturday. There was the whistle that was blown on the Tyler Boyd touchdown. Rule 7 section 2 of the NFL rulebook states the down should be replayed and whatever happened on the play doesn’t count if there was an inadvertent whistle while the ball is in the air. It’s clear as day it shouldn’t have counted. On the Raiders’ last drive, there was a roughing the passer called on Bengals defensive linemen Khalid Kareem where they claimed he hit Derek Carr’s helmet when he didn’t hit it, he hit neck which isn’t a penalty. In the Bucs vs. Eagles game, the Eagles were called for roughing the passer for hitting too low when it was Tom Brady’s hip that was hit. The playoffs are on track to be poorly officiated.
What should be done to prevent this is a question being asked by most fans. One thing I’ve seen suggested is making officials full-time officials. If they are full-time then officials wouldn’t have to have day jobs. Retied official Ed Houclie is also a lawyer, just as an example. More frequent use of a so-called “sky judge” has been suggested as well. This allows the league office in New York to give officials on the field instruction on what to do in a given situation. Microchip technology has been suggested to take some of the guesswork out of things like first downs, touchdowns, etc.
Whatever the league and Alberto Riveron, the NFL head of officiating, do to fix the issue, it needs to be done soon. NFL fans are getting frustrated and running out of patience. Before too long, some fans may stop watching until the issue is fixed. It’s no secret money talks, and the money is going to start screaming to fix it soon from sponsors.