The Cleveland Browns are such a toxic franchise they even get referees fired.

Per Football Zebras, down judge Hugo Cruz was reportedly fired following the Cleveland Browns – Los Angeles Chargers game in which he missed a very obvious false start.

In the final moments of the first half of the game, the Chargers scored on a 29-yard touchdown pass to take a 21-3 lead over the Browns into the locker room. However, before the ball was snapped, Chargers left tackle Russell Okung jumped very clearly and obviously. Still, there was no flag from Cruz, who had a direct line of sight on the play.

So gratuitous was the no-call that that Browns defender Myles Garrett called out the ref. “Do your job just like we need to do our job,” Garrett told the Associated Press. “If it’s holding, call holding. If it’s a false start, [call] false start, whether it’s us or them.”

“It was so obvious. To my mind, he’s moved, nobody else has moved and the ball hasn’t moved, so it’s kinda textbook. The flag should be up. I don’t understand how you don’t see it. That’s his job is to look down the line and see when people are jumping offside or false-starting, but I’ve got to keep on finishing the play.”

After the game, Browns coach Hue Jackson said one official told him that they missed the call.

“Yep. Yep. Missed it,” coach Hue Jackson said, via‘s Mary Kay Cabot. “Yeah, I was told they missed it. Was very honest on my side. It sure wasn’t the guy on the other side. It was definitely the guy on my side. That was [a false start].”

On Thursday, the NFL fired Cruz, making it the first time they’ve fired an official midseason since the advent of the Super Bowl. Messing up was bad enough, but the fact that the play resulted in a backbreaking touchdown against a snakebitten franchise apparently put it over the top. LA won the game 38-14, so it might not have made a difference, but then again that doesn’t matter.

The NFL didn’t comment on the firing but the NFL Referees Association was understandably upset with the move.

“The NFL has a troubling history of knee-jerk reactions with an eye on public relations, and clearly it has not learned from past mistakes,” said Scott Green, executive director of the NFL Referees Association. “The NFLRA will protect the collectively bargained rights of all officials and will challenge this reckless decision through the grievance process.”

The NFLRA has 90 days to file a grievance on Cruz’s behalf and all signs point to them doing so. The move is surely sending shockwaves through the referee union as they’re suddenly one really bad call away from potentially losing their jobs.

The NFL usually grades officials on their performance on every play of every game. And though the league has suspended or reassigned officials for game mistakes, though it always waited until the offseason to make personnel changes. Until now.

[Football Zebras]

About Sean Keeley

A graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse related things for SB Nation, Curbed,, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Chicago.

1 thought on “NFL not messing around, fires official after missed false start call in Browns-Chargers game

  1. Good on them, and while they are at it they should fire the whole grew who worked Thursday nights game, they SUCKED. FOX pointed out 4 or 5 blown calls in the first half Buck Aikman and the guys were saying it was the worst officiated game they had ever called. I think the refs are not that good anymore.

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