Saturday, April 12, 2008

Farewell Larry Nemmers and Gerald Austin; Hello Carl Cheffers and Al Riveron

The Courier News is reporting that after 17 years as a crew chief, Larry Nemmers is retiring from being an NFL referee (although he will become the NFL's replay director) and after 18 years as a crew chief, Gerald Austin is retiring from NFL refereeing.

According to the article, NFL officiating director Mike Pereira confirmed that Carl Cheffers and Al Riveron will be the new referees to replace them next season.

Let's look back with nostalgia on Larry Nemmers and Gerald Austin in 2007.

Favorites did not do that well in Larry Nemmers's games, winning 67% of the time rather than our estimate of 79% so they did 12% worse than expected. Second-worst of the NFL referees by our estimation.

Gerald Austin won the title in 2007 for the lowest number of accepted penalties per game. He won't be coming back to defend his title. Pete Morelli becomes the favorite to step up in 2008.

Gerald Austin and Larry Nemmers were right at the top in yards per penalty -- Gerald Austin won the title with 9.0 per penalty with Larry Nemmers in third at 8.4 per penalty. Scott Green has a chance to break through in 2008 and claim the top spot.

If only somebody would set up an NFL referee fantasy league! It would be hard, though, because the NFL does not announce which referees are playing which games or even which referees have a bye week.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

NFL Rule Changes for 2008 May Reduce Penalties

Many newspapers are reporting on changes in the NFL rules. Strange, there doesn't seem to be an announcement about this from the NFL itself on the NFL web site. I guess they expect fans to catch up by reading the newspapers and hearing second-hand.

Rule changes that may affect the number of penalties include:
  • No 5-yard penalty for incidental facemask infractions.
  • Allowing one defensive player to have a communicating device with the coaches.
According to AP football writer Barry Wilner, allowing a defender to communicate with the coaches might lead to less penalties. According to the chairman of the Arena Football League's rules and competition committee, when they changed the rules to allow a defender to communicate with the coaches, there were more defensive stops and less penalties. Barry Wilner wrote that there was, surprisingly, an increase in scoring.

If that's correct, there might be slightly less penalties called this year. But we might still have the same distribution of penalties among the referee crews (the ones that regularly call more penalties might still be near the tops in penalties, although calling a little less than last year).

Post your thoughts and predictions for next year's penalty rate.