The Cavalcade of Incompetence on Monday night – which wound up impacting the outcome of the game – gives further fuel to claims the NFL’s on-field product has become overly officious. It also moves public perception of the NFL a few thoroughfares closer to the NBA’s neighborhood, where open distrust of officiating is so ingrained that it’s permanently stained into the woodwork.
The Buffalo-Seattle contest was a stand-alone feature game which wasn’t decided until literally the final play. The result will have a bearing on both the Bills’ playoff chances and the Seahawks’ hopes of winning the NFC West. On the surface, it was precisely the type of game the NFL would like to present to a national television audience.
But that’s not what anyone is talking about.
Instead, Conversation Topic #1 is all about the “what the (expletive) were they thinking?” way the officials handled the end of the 1st half; Conversation Topic #2 is Seattle’s secondary getting away with de-cleating a Bills receiver in the end zone on the last play of the game, when Buffalo still had a chance to win. There was no penalty.
But there’s a clear path for the NFL to take toward no longer looking lost in the woods: Full-time officials. I’m not the first person to suggest it, of course, but it’s a move that must be made. Employing officials full-time is well within the league's budget. While it won’t completely eliminate on-field mistakes, it will reduce them, while pumping helium into the league’s sinking standing in the eyes of the public.
It’s a matter of trust, and a quick, easy fix. Make it so.