Star staff reacts to NFL officiating

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AP Photo | Matt Durisko

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) talks to Referee Tony Corrente (99) during an NFL football game, Monday, November 8, 2021 in Pittsburgh.

Northern Star Staff

A taunting penalty called on Chicago Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh on Monday night in their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is drawing the ire of not just Bears fans, but football fans and analysts. Here’s some thoughts from the Northern Star sports staff.

League has history of poor officiating

Skyler Kisellus, Assistant Sports Editor

Since the recent Monday Night Football matchup between the Chicago Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers, a game featuring several questionable penalties against the Bears and missed penalties that would have benefitted Chicago, the integrity and competency of NFL referees has been brought under intense scrutiny.

Although Monday’s game is the most recent incident to occur, questionable refereeing is nothing new to the NFL.

Take, for example, the 2019 NFC Championship Game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints. With the game tied 20-20 and the Saints driving towards the Rams’ end zone, Saints quarterback Drew Brees attempted a pass to wide receiver Tommylee Lewis, who happens to be a former Huskie.

As the pass was in the air, Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman delivered a blindside hit to Lewis, which was a blatant defensive pass interference penalty, though no flag was thrown by the officiating crew. The “NOLA No-Call” was a major factor in the Saints’ elimination from the playoffs that year as the Rams proceeded to win and move on to the Super Bowl.

There are plenty more instances of poor refereeing that can be found by taking a look at past NFL contests, but the no-call in the NFC Championship Game is just one of many that the NFL has failed to get right.

With referees not being fined, suspended and seemingly undisciplined for detrimental conduct on the field, instances like those on Monday night are likely to be repeated until the NFL takes initiative and holds its own referees accountable for their actions.

Just like players, refs need accountability

Carlos Finney, Sports Columnist

The referees continue to be able to make mistake after mistake with no consequences. It gets even worse when you look back at the game on Monday Night Football. A ref intentionally makes contact with another player, and everyone knows it’s wrong, but the NFL does absolutely nothing about it with Commissioner Roger Goodell being the head of it all.

Referees need to start being held to the same standards as players and coaches for the association to be seen as fair towards everyone. Players and coaches are fined for a multitude of reasons, and if they were to make contact with an official, they would be fined and suspended. The same rules should apply to refs as well.

This bias shown towards referees by the NFL has gone on for too long and ruins the game more and more as it goes on. Changes need to be made for how refs call a game to improve so that everyone is held accountable for their actions that help determine outcomes of a game. The integrity of the NFL is slowly fading away, and the league needs to do something before it is completely lost for good.

NFL needs to evolve officiating

Waleed Alamleh, Sports Columnist

The root of the NFL’s referee problem comes from its failure to upgrade its replay system with new age ideas. The last time the NFL tried implementing a replay change was back in 2019 when pass interference calls were subject to instant replay in the final two minutes of the second and fourth quarters.

That ended terribly with even more questionable decisions made that season by the league’s replay officials on those plays. The rule was subsequently changed back, and there have been no new changes since.

With the technology that is out now, it’s a shame the NFL hasn’t incorporated them in like other football leagues to help with officiating. Take the Alliance of American Football, which in its lone season in 2019 created the ‘Sky Judge’ referee.

The ‘Sky Judge’ was the eighth referee in one of the press boxes, who helped assist the on-field referees with a different viewpoint.

“The theory is a person who has access to the video feed can run the plays back and forth and if they see something late in the game that could be critical to the outcome to the game,” said Dean Blandino, former Vice President of Officiating, in an interview with ProFootballTalk on March 4, 2019. “If it’s a clear mistake on the field, then the Sky Judge can correct it.”

The Baltimore Ravens put in a proposal last offseason to the rules committee to add a ‘Sky Judge,’ which gained a little attention before it eventually removed the proposal. It’s on the NFL to get on top of the officiating blunders, and it starts by changing upgrading how they allow replay to correct mistakes.