Hey NFL Critics: Stop Having Unrealistic Expectations for Refs

It is hard for refs to get things right in real time, and easy for fans to gripe after the fact.

Referee Clete Blakeman watches a replay during a game. (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King writes that it is unrealistic to think occurrences on the football field that last 0.94 seconds (he timed it six times, that was the average), can be sensibly “dissected and critiqued in real time.” King is referencing a specific moment during the AFC Championship Game — the Myles Jack strip of Patriots running back Dion Lewis in the open field in the fourth quarter. Lewis was running in the open field when Jack came on him, and partially stripped the ball from Lewis. In the process, both men went to the ground and the ball was stolen by Jack. Jack rolled over, got up and began to run with the ball but the play was ruled dead by an official’s whistle on the field.

People are saying that the whistle on the stripped fumble cost the Jaguars the game because Jack would have ran that back for a touchdown. But King argues that it is ridiculous to think that after watching slow-motion replays that the official in real time should “certainly have seen what we just saw.” We saw the play live and then in replay six or eight or 20 times. The official saw it live. King writes that NFL fans are asking too much of officials because we want them to get 100 percent of plays correct. And when they don’t, it is the worst thing in the world.

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