One of the hardest jobs in the world is to officiate an athletic contest. Officials are tasked to control the contest and still allow the athletes to play and the coaches to coach. They cross the line when they become the center of attention in the game instead of the players.
The NFL has been over-officiated this year. It would be easy to label the officials as out of control, but the NFL is to blame. It has set an unrealistic goal for the officials to call every game a perfect game.
In the final quarter of the Jets-Cowboys game, six straight penalties were called – three against each team. It was borderline ridiculous. The league is tormented by penalty flags on just about every kicking play and holding is called on every other pass play.
An emphasis on safety is a good thing, but it can be accomplished without a call on anything close as a penalty. When I was a young coach, a very experienced official told me that a well-officiated game is a game in which no one knows who officiated the game.
Today, an NFL official will get more TV face time than the head coach. The number of penalties called this year has the league on track to set a record. Over-officiation is damaging the image of the league.
Because of the blown pass interference call against the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs last year, the league now allows coaches to challenge pass interference calls. However, even with the new rule, it is virtually impossible for an official to get overruled, barring some crippling consequence. The challenge causes yet another disruption in the game.
A holding call could be called on every football play at any level. Football is a physical game that will always be a physical game. Every move does not require an action by an official.
Over-officiating is not just at the professional level. It is seen at the college level and even from time to time at the high school level, but NFL officials have become the worst. Defensive holding calls on half of all passing plays makes it next to impossible to watch without getting frustrated.
Technology is here to stay, but the use of technology means more instant replays and less exciting football.
The computer chips in the shoulder pads of NFL players allows big brother to have even more control. Football is still the No. 1 watched sport in America, but technology may eventually put an end to that.
The league needs to use a little common sense. Fans spend a lot of money to attend NFL games, but they will not continue to spend those big bucks if the entire entertainment factor continues to trend toward a bunch of officials dominating the game.
The NFL is about the players and coaches – not about league officials. The bottom line is that football fans want to watch the football fly and not watch the penalty flag fly.
• The quote of the week comes from Hall of Fame NFL coach John Madden: “If there is a time when you’re going to be angry, then you’re going to be angry. And if you feel that way and let it go by, then you’re being a phony. If I get angry it’s for a good reason, either for an action or as a reaction. The same applies when I’m happy.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.