If the Players are Professionals...Shouldn't the Officials also be Pros?

Mark Anthony DiBello@MarkDiBelloContributor IMay 29, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  A detailed picture of a referee and the football during the Super Bowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

If I may enlighten football fans …let me write…as a part-time professional reporter (my full-time pursuit is to further my career as an NFL broadcaster, a position I longed for as a player and communications graduate for the University Miami Hurricanes 1982-85), it is my job to know football.  As you may or may not know, in an NFL game or analyzing a result; the home team has been averaging a generic three-point (sometimes 4-point) “advantage.”  Let it be known, while it may be perceived and in-part true, that home field advantage is due to a team’s comfort factor, fan support or familiarity with the local turf; it has much more to do with biased officiating and “home calls.”  And not especially the yardage involved in the penalties called for the home team, but in the timeliness of those penalties.


Now, for greater insight, let me inform you of the team that has the greatest home field advantage I have seen in my 40-years of association with the sport…the Philadelphia Eagles.  In fact, I have been “making a living” on the 4-6 point “advantage” this mediocre at-best-team has gotten in Pennsylvania for the last 4-5 years, and it has been extremely lucrative for me to root against Philly when they are on the road, as I have always known they were overrated. 


Case in point, if you saw the Cowboy vs. Eagle game a couple of years back, you would have seen an unprecedented 3 penalty flags thrown against the Eagles, on the first Eagle touchdown drive, whereby the flags were actually pick-up and “no-calls” were made.  Without depth of understanding, the announcer proclaimed he had not seen anything quite like that in all his years.  And frankly, this was just one series of downs; the rest of the game was equally as predictably biased. 


And to close on this point, rooting against Philly when such a bias does not exist has eradicated that undue advantage.  Furthermore, with Philly’s season on the brink, I only saw greater bias manifested in the Eagle home games. All I can say is: watch for yourself, you will see officiating the likes of which you’ve not seen before (likely including a major, errant, pro-Eagle replay call).


In closing, when it comes to the “politics” of NFL officiating, I am all for full-time, “professional” officials and deleting the “human error” of part-time officials and referees. Look it, as noted, the “zebras” are generally bad anyway and the politicking of the game is as corrupt as it gets when it comes to the men in the striped shirts.  Don’t convicts where the same?  Well, some of these calls are criminal, so “if the shoe and/or shirt fits, wear it.”  The players are pros, shouldn’t the men who officiate over them, be the same?