All seem to agree NFL of­fi­ci­at­ing is ap­palling

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Arnie Sta­ple­ton

In a di­vided na­tion, NFL of­fi­cials are a uni­fy­ing fac­tor, be­cause ev­ery­one seems to dis­agree with them. QB’s say they take too many dirty hits. De­fen­sive backs say they can’t touch any­one with­out get­ting a flag.

In a di­vided na­tion, NFL of­fi­cials are a uni­fy­ing fac­tor, be­cause ev­ery­one seems to dis­agree with them.

Quar­ter­backs say they take too many dirty hits. Re­ceivers com­plain they are tar­geted. De­fen­sive backs say they can’t touch any­one with­out get­ting a flag. And coaches say their teams never catch a break.

Fans want games to move along with­out end­less re­views and flags. The league’s head of of­fi­ci­at­ing even found him­self tweet­ing dur­ing Mon­day night’s Bills-Sea­hawks game when the crew bun­gled a se­ries of calls at the end of the first half on a field goal try that would prove cru­cial to the out­come. “Time to bring back the re­place­ment Refs!” Jeremi Me­len­drez, owner of J’s Bar­ber Lounge in Las Cruces, New Mex­ico, wrote on Face­book while watch­ing the league’s lat­est of­fi­ci­at­ing fi­asco.

And this was from a Pack­ers fan still salty over the “Fail Mary” in Seat­tle, the botched call in the end zone in 2012 that sped the re­turn of the reg­u­lar of­fi­cials.

Me­len­drez de­scribes him­self as an avid but an­gry fan. He has NFL Sun­day Ticket but says the pro­lif­er­a­tion of penalty flags over the last few years are mak­ing games harder to watch.

“It’s no fun any­more be­cause it’s flag foot­ball,” Me­len­drez said. “I’m sure play­ers and coaches are up­set, too.” That they are. Two weeks ago, the Raiders over­came an NFL-record 23 penal­ties to beat the Buccaneers, and Oak­land coach Jack Del Rio wasn’t about to pin the blame solely on his play­ers.

“Penal­ties are up through­out the league,” Del Rio said. “I think at some point it will set­tle down as they put view­ers to sleep.”

Del Rio is just the lat­est to ar­gue that one of the forces driv­ing down TV rat­ings is the flurry of flags slow­ing the rhythm of games.

“Mon­day Night Foot­ball” an­a­lyst Jon Gru­den said fewer quar­ter­backs are throw­ing down­field be­cause of a lack of pro­tec­tion, but on the few times they do go deep, flags are fly­ing ei­ther for hold­ing or pass in­ter­fer­ence.

Some de­fend­ers com­plain the newer rules re­quire them to make su­per-hu­man, split-sec­ond de­ci­sions in midair so as not to hit a guy too late or too hard, or too high or too low.

Oth­ers, like reign­ing MVP Cam New­ton, are call­ing for more flags.

New­ton took his case di­rectly to Roger Good­ell af­ter no whistle was blown when Car­di­nals pass rusher Calais Campbell crashed into him below the knees two weeks ago.

Through Week 9, penal­ties are down slightly (16.93 per game) over the same pe­riod as last year (17.21), but up from 2014 (16.55). And the av­er­age length of games (3:07:49) is down by 92 sec­onds over the first half of the 2015 sea­son, but up from ‘14 when it was 3:06:23.

All these penal­ties are down from this time last year:

• Il­le­gal con­tact (41 vs. 44)

• De­fen­sive hold­ing (157 vs. 174)

• Of­fen­sive pass in­ter­fer­ence (68 vs. 75)

• Il­le­gal use of hands (63 vs. 97)

• Un­nec­es­sary rough­ness (121 vs. 135)

• Rough­ing the passer (42 vs 66)

Taunt­ing is up (24 vs. 17) and the 42 un­sports­man­like con­duct fouls are the same as in 2015.

Dur­ing one Mon­day night game this sea­son, the Car­di­nals beat the Jets 28-3 in a yawner that fea­tured 23 flags. By the third quar­ter, play-by-play man Sean McDonough had seen enough.

“If we’re look­ing for rea­sons TV rat­ings are down all over the place, this doesn’t help,” McDonough said on the air that night. “No. The way this game has been of­fi­ci­ated is not some­thing any­body wants to watch.”

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce grew so irate over not get­ting a pass in­ter­fer­ence call on Prince Amuka­mara af­ter the Jaguars cor­ner­back hooked him in the end zone last week that he threw his towel at the of­fi­cial.

Ejected and de­jected, Kelce later said he “felt like an id­iot. It was a ter­ri­ble de­ci­sion . ... I can’t throw my flag at the ref. He can throw his all day long.”

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