Courtside Commentary: NFL Referees’ poor performance ruins games

Story by Jack Meltsner, Co-Editor-in-chief

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees dropped back to pass and delivered a strike to wide-out Tommylee Lewis. Crack! He was met with a thundering blow from Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman before the ball reached him. To East Meck football fans, this was blatant pass interference that would have moved the Saints inside the Rams’ 10-yard line, giving the Saints a fresh set of downs to score a touchdown in the final two minutes of the 2019 NFC championship game, paving their path to the Super Bowl.

Although East football fans thought this was pass interference, the officiating crew thought different. In the following minutes, the football world became outraged with the official’s infamous no-call. I distinctly remember sitting in my living room thinking “man, I hate the Saints, but that was clearly pass interference, even I would have made that call.” The Panthers fan in me was aching, along with many of my classmates.

What happened that night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is a prime example of why fans criticize the NFL’s officiating. While officials are human, it is still their job to officiate games to the best of their ability. However, referees have severely impacted the outcome of games in recent seasons by making or not making the right calls.

If officiating can have such extensive repercussions, why doesn’t the NFL prioritize the quality of their referees? Instead of prioritizing Super Bowl Media day or the NFL Combine, the NFL needs to focus their attention on the biggest flaw in their game: the officials. Instead of focusing on revenue, the NFL needs to first fix its officiating to make the game more enjoyable for the fans, resulting in more loyal fan bases and an influx of revenue.

The abundance of superstars and unique skill sets in the NFL have recently been overshadowed by the referees’ inability to effectively represent the rule book. Rules have been put in place to limit players’ personalities and the flaws of officiating have been exposed when it takes more than five minutes to review a call. Because of this, the game is becoming lackluster and is losing fans fast.

NFL refs take too long reviewing plays in question and sometimes outrun commercial breaks. If it takes referees more than five minutes to review a call, they should not be out there in the first place. The review process requires referees to review a call on a Microsoft tablet while senior vice president, Alberto Riveron, analyzes every possible camera angle of the play in question from New York. Riveron then communicates his verdict to the game’s head ref. My question with this is: why does the on-field ref need to review the call on a tablet when there is someone hired to do this in New York? The NFL’s review process takes too long, is ineffective and drives fans away from the game. 

No one wants to go to or watch a game where the refs spend as much time discussing calls as actual gameplay. In order for NFL refs to maximize their effectiveness, they must rework the rules of what is a catch and what is pass interference to make calls quicker and establish credibility between players, fans and refs.

It is time the NFL realizes its flaws and takes action.

“Poor officiating can drastically change the outcome of a game. It can change a teams season, morale, the relationships players have with referees and pretty much every aspect of the game.” Senior Armani Valentine said.