Saturday, December 08, 2007

NFL Fines Three Baltimore Ravens for Criticizing Officials

The NFL fined Samari Rolle, Chris McAlister, and Derrick Mason $15,000 each for publicly questioning the integrity of the officiating in the game between the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens.

Coach Brian Billick went even further in gagging NFL players and any commentary about how well the referees performed -- he talked a number of times to his team "about not speaking publicly about any unhappiness we have with the officials."

If the NFL, NFL coaches, and NFL players have a gag rule to prevent them from saying anything about NFL referees, then it is up to the fans and sports writers to comment on the referees!

Referees are human beings and just like players, sometimes they have good days and sometimes they unintentionally have a bad game. That's not cheating, that's just being a human being and doing better some games than others. Why aren't sports writers and journalists commenting on the referees and how they are doing? Right now, many sports writers depend on the coaches and players to give quotes and lead what they will mirror in their stories. But it's clear the NFL is gagging everyone from saying a single word about the referees, so it's up to the writers to take some initiative and comment on them without prompting from the players or coaches.

People who didn't have a chance to watch the game would like to see some opinionated, fair explanation of what happened. If someone makes a sensational catch, the article should say it was a spectacular catch and not just report the bland fact of "completion for 25 yards." Same for if a player makes a terrible play, tell us the player dropped an easy catch as opposed to a very bland statement of "pass attempted fell incomplete" with no explanation. And the same for the referees -- if a referee makes an obviously bad call, tell us what happened and say it was a bad call as opposed to saying nothing at all.

I am not saying that writers should speculate about whether referees are trying to cheat. When it comes to the players, if someone drops an easy catch, writers should not be saying that the player was cheating and trying to lose. Same for referees -- you can say that a referee made a bad call without suggesting that the referee is actually cheating and trying to make either team lose.

If the NFL is gagging players from giving quotes on what actually happened on the field, it's up to the writers to earn their money and actually write about what they saw. Otherwise, fire them and get better writers...


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12:46 PM  

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