Former NFL head of officiating: Refs breaking rules to get replay assistance

By Jesse Reed

Is the NFL looking at another scandal? In this case, we can call it Replaygate.

Former NFL head of officiating, Mike Pereira, believes that the league’s officials are skirting the rules to get help from replay officials in the booth during games.

“Officiating is changing before our very eyes,” he said, “and I don’t know if anyone has recognized it — except maybe me.”

It’s a bit ironic that this could be occurring at a time when the NFL recently came down so ridiculously hard on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for allegedly messing with the PSI of footballs.

There are very clear cut rules in place about when replay is to be used. Yet Pereira believes refs are corresponding via wireless communication when they should be using their own judgement.

“They’re never going to come out and admit it because it’s not allowed in the rules,” Pereira told ESPN. “I get that. And I’m not against the notion of trying to get as many calls right as you can, but my only concern is if the rulebook doesn’t allow you to do it — to me, there is a conflict. I get the side of trying to avoid controversy, but I’d rather the rulebook allow it first.”

Pereira cites one example, which stems from the Monday night game featuring the Pats and Baltimore Ravens. After a short pass from Joe Flacco to running back Kenneth Dixon, Ed Hochuli initially placed the ball at the 23-yard line before picking it up and moving it back to the 27-yard line. No challenge had been issued, and there was no conference on the field to discuss a potential issue with the spot.

This play does not fall into the category of plays in which the league’s replay staff is allowed to “consult” with refs on the field, yet Pereira alleges the rules were broken in this instance.

“It was the replay official who did it,” Pereira said. “They have gotten so involved in the game since they started using this communication system [in 2014]. The official on the field made an error, and boom, they make that change. What do you think happened? I talk to replay officials. They’re involved in almost everything now.

“If that’s the tack you’re going to take, as far as I’m concerned, that’s fine. But everyone has to be aware of it. There has been all of this talk of adding an eighth official, but really, they already have one. He’s in the booth.”

This is a pretty serious allegation. If true, then the NFL owes its players and coaches an explanation and an apology for such a hypocritical and casual bending of the rules.