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NFL officials continue to struggle each and every Sunday

December 31, 2013 - Andy Heintz
I love almost everything about the NFL.

Each and every Sunday you never know what's going to happen. The games are mostly intriguing, the contests are usually competitive and upsets happen all the time.

It would be so much better though if the officials wouldn't get in the way of great games.

Just this past Sunday, the officials cost Pittsburgh a spot in the playoffs. Kansas City's attempt to beat San Diego with a last second kick was off line but an illegal formation on the Chargers wasn't called. The kick should have been attempted again from 36 yards and the Chiefs may have won the game. That would have sent Pittsburgh to the playoffs instead of the Chargers.

It just seems like every week, I read a statement from the NFL that admits a mistake by the officials. I am sure Mike Tomlin doesn't care about the admittance after the fact. His Steelers are still home for the holidays instead of competing in the postseason.

Another big miscue came earlier this season when San Francisco was on the verge of knocking off New Orleans at home. Beating the Saints on their home turf is hard enough, but it makes it impossible when officials get in the way.

The Niners were clinging to a three-point lead when Ahmad Brooks sacked Drew Brees and forced a fumble that was recovered by the visitors. The officials though called Brooks for a personal foul because they felt Brooks hit Brees too high. I think he hit Brees too hard and they threw a flag for that instead.

Brooks was fined the next day but his appeal to the league was reversed this last week. That means the NFL once again admitted that the call was wrong on the field. The Niners likely would have won the game but instead the Saints went down the field and tied it up before winning on a late kick.

That loss given to the Niners put them at 12-4. Giving them a win like they essentially could have earned would have given them a first-round bye at 13-3. Instead, the Niners have to go on the road to compete in Green Bay against a team that is essentially five games behind them the standings.

I really want to be an NFL fan. But the league has really done its part to not allow that to happen.

You can't hit anyone hard anymore. There is too much of a risk to the league that they would rather miss calls and be on the cautious side of calls then get the calls right. If that is going to happen, then the officials should be able to review all questionable calls. Or coaches should be able to challenge all calls.

Brooks appeared to have hit Brees just below the neck area. It also looks as though Brees ducked as the contact came. If he doesn't duck, Brooks likely hits him square in the chest and we aren't talking about a questionable call. It's not Brees' fault. His reaction was normal. The officials just need to be able to look at the play in slow motion to see the play from all angles. It was too big of a spot in the game to just call the play as they see it in real time.

Soft is not how I want to describe my favorite sport. But the NFL has officially made the league soft. And they have officially made the referees look bad by forcing them to be cautious and make poor judgements on hard contact plays.

I will continue to watch. But it would be much more fun to see real football. Not this stuff that I see on TV in 2013.


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