In the era of fact-checking in politics, the NFL’s referees want that same attitude to come to the football field, particularly when referees are called out for calls that were actually correct.
The comments come after Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said that a Super Bowl ref “shouldn’t even be able to work at f—ing Foot Locker,” following a call that took a game-tying two-point conversion off the board in the Chiefs’ playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was just the latest in a series of personal attacks on refs this year.
Scott Green, a former NFL referee and the executive director of the referee’s union told USA Today that the NFL needs to do more than just fine players like Kelce—it should call them out for being wrong.
“We appreciate that the league reprimands guys for doing that, but we also like it to be known that in those instances, all those calls were correct. That, to us, is equally as important, that the public knows that just because somebody complained and said it was horrible and the guy is horrible and he shouldn’t be on the field – it’s important that word gets back out that, well, just so you’re aware, we reviewed those plays and (the penalties) were there.”
The NFL is already weaker on disciplining players for calling out refs than other leagues. The NFL doesn’t fine players and coaches for criticizing the officiating, only for calling out specific officials or going way over the top. The NCAA is much tougher on fining coaches for criticizing officiating.
Green told USA Today that the swipes at NFL officials are unfair, given how few calls are actually missed.
“I’m not going to say we don’t miss calls. We obviously do,” Green said. “But players miss plays and coaches miss plays as well. When we’re in the high-90s (percentage-wise), we’re doing pretty good for basically getting that one look when we make the call and then obviously there’s replay to help. To say that officiating is getting worse is just not correct.”