2008: A Hard Year For NFL Referees

Enlai PensadoContributor INovember 3, 2008

This season has been terrible for NFL officials.

That started during Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers game Week Two, when with 1:17 left in the game and being deep on red zone, football slipped out of the throwing hand of Jay Cutler and was recovered by San Diego linebacker Tim Dobbins.

But stellar referee Ed Hochuli called it as incomplete pass allowing Denver to keep the ball and few instants later Broncos scored, winning that game.

The real problem is that Hochuli blew his whistle during the play, signaling that the play was dead, so there was no way to reverse the call. Hochuli admitted his mistake and spotted the ball at the point of the fumble, but could not award possession to San Diego.

It's the start of November and mid season leader in the AFC West are the Broncos (4-4) followed by the Chargers (3-5), which shows that Hochuli's call may be bugging too much in the next few months.

Because of that, Hochuli has been the focus of all eyes, and unfortunately his performance has been mediocre. The worse part is it's branching out to every referee in the league, introducing a new situation for NFL standards: we're somehow trusting less on referees' calls.

Fortunately, as of today, that doesn't look like the product of some corruption, but just honest mistakes. But that doesn't eliminate the fact that such mistakes are affecting their image as judges.

As a clear example of that during last weekend in Miami Dolphins at Denver Broncos game there was some signals of frustration. The only time WR Brandon Marshall was able to beat his marker and go for a TD, an offensive interference call reversed the play. This was a strict call that defined everything, especially because the score was very close and Miami's offense wasn't working too well.

At any other time that could be ignored but given the critic environment we're having, even when the call was right because Marshall touched the defensive back's shoulder, Denver coaches overreacted against referees.

I'm trying to avoid being paranoid, but this must be fixed as soon as possible, because the NFL's success has been based on its refereeing. It's no secret that NFL refereeing serves as a model for several other team sports with aspects like instant repetition and the model of multiple referees on and off the field.