Controversial Officiating Plagues the NFL

The National Football League has been afflicted this season with botched calls by officiating crews. While the NFL has always had some issues with calls made by referees, as does any league, this season seems to be worse than previous years. In fact, multiple plays this season have resulted in the NFL having to announce after games that referees had made the wrong calls. The problem with some of these calls is that, if the officiating crews had corrected such mistakes during the games, the final scores would probably be different. While there are multiple plays to point out, one specific call that was missed this season occurred during the game between the Seahawks and the Lions.

During the final two minutes of game, Calvin Johnson, a wide receiver for Detroit, was running for a touchdown when the ball was knocked out of his hands and into the end zone. K.J. Wright, a linebacker for Seattle, batted the ball out of the end zone. Below is the NFL’s rule about batting a ball:


Based upon this rule, the Lions should have gotten the ball back where Johnson had fumbled, which was near the one-yard line. However, because the official did not call the foul, the Seahawks got the ball and ran out the clock to finish the game. The NFL’s Vice President of Officiating, Dean Blandino, announced after the game that the official had made the wrong call. It is arguable that, had the call be corrected during the game, that the Lions would have scored and won the game. However, at this point, that is simply a hypothetical argument because we will never know. What is known is that the NFL is having a multitude of problems with incorrect or missed calls this season (just check out this list), and something needs to be done about the problem. Fans, athletes, and coaches understand that sports are not perfect, but we certainly want to know that officials are doing their best to make correct calls.

So, how do fans and sports professionals feel about the referees incorrect calls? Some fans, like Jeff Atwood, feel the referees should be punished.


Some people, like Don Banks, who works for, argue that the NFL rulebook is confusing and too complex, thus resulting in the officials being unable to know all of the rules well enough to make correct calls all the time.


Others, like the one below, find the calls to be outrageous and just want the referees to start making sense in their decisions.


Everyone has different ideas and opinions in terms of how the NFL should handle the issue of bad calls, and, in reality, the league needs to determine the best course of action to overcome the problem. The truth is, fans and teams will not be satisfied with corrections after the fact for much longer.

What do you think? How should the NFL handle this problem? Leave a comment with your thoughts on how the NFL should proceed.


Author: sportswille

Reformed ad agency guy. Sac Kings, PGA Tour, Pebble Beach, Aspen yielded fascination with sports business. Now teach at my alma mater, University of Texas Austin: Integrated Marketing, Social Media, Business and Law and Sports Audiences. 40 year streak of single digit handicap under severe pressure.

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