Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Officials and Perfection

By now you've all heard about the San Diego-Denver game in which Denver won by one point after a two point conversion following a touchdown that came on the play after referee Ed Hochuli blew his whistle early on what should have been a Denver fumble recovered by San Diego (got all that?).

I've been thinking about a post on this ever since that call, and especially ever since all of the football "experts" have been screaming about this "tragedy and travesty of the game." And you can Google ed hochuli whistle and get a whole plethora of hits about Ed, the play, the call and how he screwed the Chargers.

A few things here (and, no, I will not say, "It's just a game"):

First: Officiating is probably the only profession/hobby where you are expected to be perfect from the first moment you step on the field/court and get better from there.

Second: Yes, he made a mistake. We all make mistakes. Even those of us at the top of whatever profession we happen to be in. Nobody is perfect. It's just that the mistake of one of the best football officials in the country happened to come in the spotlight of national television.

Third: How many people do you know who, when they make a mistake, will stand up and say, "It was my fault"? Every football official in this country will blow his or her whistle at the wrong time in their career. I've done it. Ed just did it. Someone else will do it this Friday. But the one thing we all have in common is that, when it happens, we say, "Look, I blew it; here's how we deal with it."

Fourth: He applied the correct rule. I don't know the exact wording of the rule in the NFL, but it would appear that when an inadvertent whistle occurs during a fumble, the team last in possession gets the ball at the spot the where the whistle blew and the down counts. In high school, the rule reads like this:

An inadvertent whistle ends the down. Inadvertent whistles are administered as follows: b) The team last in possession may choose to either put the ball in play where possession was lost or replay the down if, during a down or during a down in which the penalty for a foul is declined, an inadvertent whistle is sounded while the ball is loose following a backward pass, fumble, illegal forward pass or illegal kick.

Blow the whistle early, my fault, here are the options.

Fifth: There is probably no worse feeling than blowing a whistle early, and I am absolutely positive that Ed didn't sleep well, if at all, Sunday night (and maybe most of this week).

Sixth: This was a major mistake. NFL officials get graded on every single call they make or don't make. They watch as much film as quarterbacks. And those grades affect who gets playoff assignments. I have no doubt that this call will keep Ed out of the playoffs this year.

Last: I feel for the guy. I hope he has a good season. I hope all those football "experts" will calm down. I hope the NFL doesn't react to the situation and change a rule without taking into account the whole picture. And I hope that this one call doesn't define Ed's career or, worse, end it.


dawgdays | 1:04 PM, September 16, 2008  

I suspect Doug Eddings would agree.

As an umpire, I know that there are some things you just can't undo - calling a play dead is one of those. You make the call, and everyone stops, and there's no way to fix the "woulda, coulda, shoulda."

I suspect a year from now, not too many folks remember his name, except for some Chargers fans.

~**Dawn**~ | 8:30 PM, September 17, 2008  

I didn't see the game but of course I've heard about this incident ad nauseum. It's unfortunate. Hochuli has been one of my favorite NFL officials. I always felt like his games were called very fairly. I hope this doesn't end his career as well.

First time comments will be moderated.