Zebra Report: Commissioner Roger Goodell Handcuffing Officials on Roughing Calls

FanHouse's resident referee will chime in weekly with thoughts on major topics relating to officiating. We call it The Zebra Report.

We've already discussed roughing calls a few times this year. The calls deemed questionable to the masses, though, continue to appear at an alarming rate. Every time I send the email to our NFL FanHouse group asking for calls they'd like analyzed, I'm bombarded with emails about roughing the passer or unnecessary roughness more than anything else.
We also know the law has been laid down all season by Commissioner Roger Goodell about safety -- to which Troy Polamaluhad a few choice words. Coincidentally, the madness helped Troy's team this week. Well, sort of. In a poetic justice-type move, the Steelers ended up turning the ball over a few plays after the drive was extended via a 15 yard penalty on the Giants' Kenny Phillips.

Phillips laid Mewelde Moore out on the play, but he only appeared to take a step and a half or so before hitting Moore with his shoulder pads. The ball had gone in and out of Moore's hands. At full-speed, there's no way you can ask a defender to pull up from that close. He couldn't avoid contact unless he wasn't doing his job as a defensive player.

This was the most glaring example. The Big Lead covered several others where this strict enforcement has affected plays and possibly games -- for the record, I never think officials decide games ... that's a hyperbolic reaction housed by fans.

My problem isn't with my boys in stripes. They are obviously doing what they are told to do. It's their job, and Roger Goodell is their boss. Haven't you ever had to do something at work with which you disagreed? In my opinion -- as an outsider -- I'm placing 100 percent of the blame with the Commissioner here. He's got to ease up on this scrutiny when it comes to hard hits. There's a difference between the Kenny Phillips play and when Anquan Boldin's face was shattered. The officials are great at doing their jobs, so please just let them distinguish between the two.

Our own Stephanie Stradley has an intriguing argument here,

"I think that a lot of the get tough fine structure this year is not to protect the players but rather to have a bargaining chip with the players when they negotiate a collective bargaining arrangement. Oh, you don't like these extremely large arbitrary fines for dancing or for roughness that come out of your non-guaranteed contracts. Okay, we will work with you on that, but you have to give up___________."

I hadn't even considered that, but it wouldn't surprise me. It's an intuitive theory. Either way, the roughing penalties need to be dealt with.

Some other issues to discuss this week ...

- Falcons may have been cost the game by a muff call. I'm a back judge in high school, and I can tell you with all certainty that my most difficult calls are when the punt is bouncing around and players are all milling about. No matter where you are positioned, the ball bounces somewhere you don't expect and nearly hits (or does hit) a player. This is where replay is supposed to help. Of course, the Falcons couldn't challenge because they were out of timeouts. A system like the NCAA has where they just booth review the questionable plays would have worked much better here.

I do want to point out how much I despise the language used in the first sentence of the link above.

The officiating crew took away any chance of a Falcons comeback in Sunday's 27-14 loss to Philadelphia.

That's bulls**t. Plain and simple. In that very article is says the Eagles scored a touchdown two plays later. Did the officials block for the Eagles to clear a path? Did they suit up as Falcons players and miss tackles? What a farcical way of phrasing an intro. The players have to be accountable as well as the officials.

- Patriots were not penalized all game against the Rams at home. I didn't see the game, and I would never accuse those officials of being biased. They aren't. I do wonder how it's possible for an NFL team to play 60 minutes of football and not be assessed any penalty yardage. That just doesn't seem right, you know? As an official, you should never be caught keeping track or trying to "even up" the penalty count ... but zero on one team for an entire game? That's a clean football team, I guess. You know, the New England Patriots? They never try to get away with anything ...

- Eli Manning only penalized five yard delay of game for trying to call back-to-back timeouts, when Joe Gibbs was hit for 15 last year. I looked all over the place to try and find the rules concerning this, but didn't have any luck. I do, however, often preach about common sense. So we can figure this out together. What were the differences in situation? Well, in one game the team trying to call a second timeout was on defense and in the other that team was on offense.

So I'm going to estimate when the team is on offense you just don't grant the timeout and let the delay of game clock run out. On defense, a "time-out" signal could potentially cause an offensive player to stop ... messing with the rhythm of the offense, and thus, an advantage was gained by the defense. Thus, they put a rule in place to prevent such measures and it's deemed unsportsmanlike conduct.

Again, that's just my best guess. I could easily be wrong, but I think it makes sense.

- Chris Johnson fumbled last night and it was ruled that he was down. Once again, this is where replay should come in, but Tony Dungy didn't have enough time to decide ... I guess. They had timeouts and challenges available. That play in fast motion looked, to me, like the ball came out after he was on the ground. Once we saw it in slow-motion, however, we knew that it came out earlier. That's what replay is for.

That's all I've got for now ... I'll be back next week. As always, if you want a rule or play reviewed (even if it's a local 8th grade game), you may submit one to our mailbox.

NFL FanHouse

Zebra Report: Commissioner Roger Goodell Handcuffing Officials on Roughing Calls originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on 2008-10-28T14:45:00+00:00. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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