Sunday, September 28, 2008

NFL Continues To Enforce Gag Rule -- Who Will Critique Referees?

The NFL continues its harsh gag rule against owners, coaches, and players from saying anything negative about referees, even if it's just a honest comment that a referee made a mistake in the game. I can understand a rule that bans any horrible accusation that a referee is intentionally cheating, but why the gag rule where you can't even say the truth -- that a referee made a human error and one of his calls was a mistake?

With the gag rule against NFL players, owners, and coaches, there should be more discussion and criticism by sportswriters. Or does the NFL have an unwritten gag rule against sportswriters? Do they feel like they have to stay on the NFL's good side to keep getting access to the players and coaches?

Let's look at the gag rule so far.

Jerry Jones commented on Ed Hochuli's mistake in the Broncos-Chargers game. The NFL fined Cowboys owner Jerry Jones $25,000. Saints coach Sean Payton criticized referees after a 34-32 loss to the Denver Broncos and the NFL fined him $15,000. Chargers coach Norv Turner was nearly fined for saying that Ed Hochuli's mistake was unacceptable -- only barely escaping a fine because he limited it to one word, did not make any other negative remarks, and said no comment when he was asked about it by reporters later that week. Yes, the NFL rewards people financially for saying no comment to reporters.

(Sean Payton was complaining about an offsides penalty that the referees did not call against the Broncos Jamie Winbown.)

According to, the NFL will now only impose fines if there is criticism of the integrity of officiating, even though the NFL constitution prohibits all criticism, regardless of whether it touches on integrity. That doesn't make sense, because Cowboys owner Jerry Jones only criticized how Ed Hochuli's crew calls many penalties and is highly criticized -- I don't see any attack on his integrity.

Sean Payton said therew as a violation that should have been called but wasn't and it's not a judgment call. I don't see any attack on anybody's integrity, just a missed call.

If the rules are unclear, the bottom line is that everyone in the NFL will be quiet rather than risk tens of thousands of dollars. Where are the sportswriters to fill in the gap of the gagged coaches, players, and owners?


Blogger MGabe said...

I don't mean to spam, but a user from my site posted an article regarding the latest gag rule invocation: James Harrison commenting on his being called on roughing the passer last Sunday night (Against Jacksonville).

Though it's a little less controversial than the Jones and Payton comments (Harrison commented on the referees being paid), its surprising more discussion isn't made:

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lions Vs Vikings 12 Oct 2008
This is hands down the worst officiating I have ever seen. I am sick to my stomach. The entire Lion organization should already be typing up their grievance to the NFL. These Refs should send out a Formal apology to the Fans or be barred from officiating another NFL game. Sickening!!!
Referee Tony Corrente should be held accountable for this game it is completely unacceptable. I would also investigate him for gambling/bribes etc.
NFL Headquarters (212)450-2000.

4:35 PM  

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