Fixing The NFL’s Officiating Mess

Full timers not the answer

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Bill Leavy better send the Giants a thank you note this week, because they were able to still upset the Packers despite his horrible, awful performance as an official. Leavy's steadfast refusal to rule correctly on Greg Jennings' fumble in the first half could have easily cost the Giants the game, and his ticky tack personal foul on Osi Umenyiora in the second half led to a Green Bay touchdown. These were major, glaring mistakes that could have ended up advancing the wrong team to the NFC title game.

I've never seen such consistently lousy officiating in a single NFL playoff season. From the Lions/Saints game to roughly a million missed facemask penalties to Leavy's bag of FAIL yesterday, it's been one glaring screwup after another. And Roger Goodell, bold man of action that he is, has announced he may try and solve the problem with full time officials:

Aiming to ensure that NFL rules are enforced the same way from game to game, the league will consider making about 10 officials full-time employees next season.

As of now, all game officials are part-time employees.

I don't quite know how paying a ref for a full offseason makes him any better once the whistle blows. To me, that's a cosmetic change employed to get people to shut up about all the bad calls. And Goodell wouldn't even say if he was committed to it or not. I do know that there are some more effective ways of getting these games to be better officiated, such as:

1. Allow the replay official to make the final judgment on a replay.

The only reason the NFL lets the ref make the final call from the field is for political reasons. You can't have your head refs getting all whiny because someone upstairs dared to overrule them. But the replay official can see the replay better and make a judgment call faster. Hurt feelings shouldn't matter.

2. Allow replay on helmet-to-helmet penalties.

Did the defender REALLY hit the QB on helmet-to-helmet? It's easy enough to find out. Nothing angers fans more than the phrase "nonreviewable."

3. Separate pass interference into flagrant and non-flagrant offenses.

They used to do this with face mask penalties until they made ALL facemasks fifteen yards, which is stupid. If you clearly are pinning a wideout's arm to keep him from catching a 50-yard pass, then it's a spot foul. If it's something more innocent, go with a 15-yard penalty. The only reason it's a blanket spot foul right now is so the ref won't get flack for making a judgment call one way or the other. But in this case, the game needs MORE subjectivity, not less.

4. Tell your refs not to blow the whistle so fast when the ball comes out.

Seriously, WAIT A SECOND. No one will die.

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