Reprimanding In The NFL

Giovanni Albanese Jr.Contributor ISeptember 22, 2008

Last week, a well established NFL official, Ed Hochuli, was reprimanded by the NFL for a mistake he made in a game between the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos.

As a society — or just as people who have the privilege of common sense — we know that no one is perfect. In fact, the NFL is aware that officials aren’t perfect. So, why is Ed Hochuli being graded down for his judgment call?

If you’re unaware of Hochuli’s reputation of an NFL official, this man has a reputation of being very fair, efficient and consistent. He received the great opportunity to officiate Super Bowl XXXIII between the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers and Super Bowl XXXVIII between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers.

In last week’s game, Hochuli blew his whistle after Jay Cutler, quarterback for the Broncos, seemingly threw an incomplete pass. The ball, which rested on the turf, was picked up by a Chargers player. The Broncos had lost possession of the ball inside the redzone going in for points in a tight game.

The play was reviewed and it was determined that the ball was indeed a fumble. But, because Hochuli blew the whistle, the possession remained in Denver’s favor because the whistle determined the ball dead. The Broncos ultimately went on to win the game by one point.

Hochuli was wrong. However, he was correct in handling the play. It was a fumble, but by rule, the whistle deadens the ball. He did the best he could possibly do in the situation that was presented to himself. Why the NFL will reprimand a man for a technicality is beyond me.

Meanwhile, the NFL permits mistakes by officials every week, in every game. And it’s seen by all the viewers, including the NFL, without any repercussions.

Instantly replay is what we see every week. Sometimes, we see it four times in an individual game. Yet, when officials reverse a call — and that is an admission to being wrong — they are respected. In Hochuli’s case, what is he supposed to do?

So, in defense of Ed Hochuli, who may not be able to even officiate a playoff game, let alone another Super Bowl, why should an official be applauded by admitting to his mistakes, and reprimanded in other cases? The NFL needs to refrain from hypocrisy and adopt consistency.