NFL’s ongoing referee fiasco hurting the shield

From lawyers to farmers to teachers, a majority of the NFL’s current crop of referees (almost 90 percent) also maintain another career off of the football field. Working for the league is not the primary occupation for most of the NFL’s officials, but it should be.

There have been a number of instances during the 2016 season alone in which a referee’s decision to make or not make a call had an impact on the final score of a game.

On Monday night, the Buffalo Bills were unable to score three more points before the end of the first half against the Seattle Seahawks and the reasoning could be directly attributed to the mistakes of the officiating crew. The missed opportunity for the Bills eventually ended up forcing them to attempt a game-winning touchdown rather than a game-tying field goal during their final offensive drive of the night.

Buffalo ended up losing the game to the Seahawks on Monday 31-25.

The Seattle fiasco is just one example of the league’s referees making a gigantic mistake in 2016 that has directly impacted the outcome of a game. The Cleveland Browns could possibly have at least one win this season if it were not for a boneheaded mistake made by an official during their Week 4 game against the Washington Redskins.

Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson clearly recovered his own fumble, but not according to the game's officials. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson clearly recovered his own fumble, but not according to the game’s officials. (Photo Source: Twitter)

During the league’s opening matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, the game’s referees did not call a single penalty on a number of helmet-to-helmet hits to Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Especially in an era where the NFL is trying to decrease the amount of those specific tackles, the officials that night basically felt Newton was fine and he should just walk it off, despite the quarterback showing obvious signs of sustaining a concussion.

Would the league paying their referees enough for them to make it their only form of employment be enough to possibly improve the quality of officiating? A few of NFL’s top head coaches have spoken about this very issue as recent as this season.

The system currently hasn’t improved. We say it has, but it hasn’t. We’re the only league with officials who have primary other jobs, which is really madness. We can pay these guys. They should be full-time NFL officials, and they should be working throughout the week, communicating. Every other sports league employs full-time officials. And ours, these guys all have other significant jobs. I just think it’s very difficult to do.

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints head coach

Even the evil mastermind known as Bill Belichick believes that the league should step up and pay their officials as full-time employees.

Personally I think those guys should be pretty well compensated for the type of job they have and the amount of responsibility they have, so it doesn’t seem like a good place to nickel-and-dime it to me.

Bill Belichick, New England Patriots head coach

The NBA, NHL, MLB, and even the MLS all employ full-time referees. The NFL generates the most revenue ($13 billion) per year than any other professional sports league in the world.

In the entire world.

So affordability is not an issue in regards to the league providing their officials with a full-time salary. Fans watch the NFL each week to see their favorite players lead their teams to victory, not for the referees to affect the results of a game.

The league has the resources to improve the quality of their officiating; it’s time they stop twiddling their thumbs and do something about it.