Kar: Want to Make the NFL Better? Take the Refs Out


Kiffer Creveling

University of Colorado junior inside linebacker Rick Gamboa (32) celebrates a recovered fumble before the call was overturned by the referee during an NCAA Football game vs. The University of Utah Utes at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017 (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Tony Kar


In the National Football League (NFL), every game is umpired by a group of referees. They are all trained and well-prepared to make the correct calls in the correct situations since just one bad call could ruin a team’s chances of winning a game.

For the most part, the referees have done a good job. Recently, however, referees have gotten in the way of the game too much. This season marks the record for the most flags in a season, with 3484 flags thrown in just 256 games. Many wonder why the refs get in the way and believe that the NFL is becoming worse because of it.

The referees are a huge part of the game. They have prevented losing teams from getting their chance of making any comeback in many situations.

Many NFL players have stated their frustrations with the referees. Star 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said, “The rule book is like a dictionary now. They’re just getting in the way too much.” Unfortunately since that statement in 2015, the officiating has just gotten worse.

This doesn’t just happen nowadays, however. It’s happened in the past and unfortunately sometimes in Super Bowls. In Super Bowl 40, which featured the Pittsburgh Steelers defeating the Seattle Seahawks, there were obvious mistakes on the refs’ part. They flagged the Seahawks a ton, preventing them from making any sort of a comeback. Referee Bill Leavy publicly admitted that the Seahawks should have won the Super Bowl 40 and that the Steelers should never have been in a comfortable winning situation.

The baseline referee calls an incomplete pass for The University of Utah during an NCAA Football game vs. The University of Southern California at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

How can a few calls determine a game? Let’s put this into perspective a bit. If you’re an offensive player that has been struggling to put up points on the board and finally get something going, if a referee called flags to put you back 10 yards of space as opposed to gaining 20, that would easily change the tone of your game. Your mentality and approach would be different. The defensive team would get much more momentum throughout the game and your moves would be more predictable.

Former tight end Shannon Sharpe stated that NFL officiating is so bad that NFL fans are beginning to believe that some of the games are fixed. It may sound ridiculous to claim that NFL games are fixed, but we all have to realize that the NFL is just another sports league that wants more ratings. Both the NBA and the NHL have gained more popularity than the NFL in the past two years. Many blame the NFL kneeling protests for the rating drop.

The NFL wants their ratings back and it seems that they will do whatever it takes to do that. Though it seems crazy to suggest that they are rigging games, I wouldn’t be surprised if some were fixed solely for rating purposes. Popular teams like the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to get “special treatment” from time to time according to many fans. This can easily be attributed to bringing in more ratings.

In the playoffs, it seems that specific playoff match-ups happen for a reason. They always have a storyline to them and all that does is bring in more audiences. From a marketing perspective, how could the NFL bring in more audiences? That might be advertising the most popular teams in the league and this is exactly why people believe that some games are fixed.

Whether the games are fixed or not, it doesn’t change the fact that the NFL referees are just downright awful this season. The number of flags thrown on the field this season makes some of the games tough to watch. After all, it seems that this league is becoming soft. It’s understandable that the league doesn’t want any big injuries to occur because they could lose ratings if the league loses their star players to injury. Without a doubt though, we can all agree that the referees just get in the way a tad too much.

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