Editorial: Don’t fine Vikings for speaking about the refsPublished 10:08am Monday, December 9, 2013
Doesn’t it seem unfair that the NFL commissioner fines coaches and players for complaining about officiating?
On one hand, we agree that good sports don’t blame the refs for losing a game. Without the ability to fine, most likely and too often players and coaches would go that route.
On the other hand, take the game Sunday between the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens. Questionable calls — some might say blatantly incorrect calls — went against the Vikings several times during, stealing away what would have been a victory.
There comes a point where officiating goes from being a side issue to where the players and fans distrust the objectivity of the guys in black and white. There comes a point where the officiating is so poor that it becomes an issue worthy of public discussion for the sake of the game of football. Nobody wants the officials to decide the outcome of games.
After the game, fans witnessed coach Leslie Frazier and several players talk about the poor officiating. Even reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson, a level-headed, low-key, earnest player, said the calls were “terrible.”
• Video evidence showed running back Toby Gerhart was clearly down when the refs said he fumbled. The Ravens ended up with great field position and scored an early touchdown.
• A penalty for a supposed peel-back block that upon replay TV announcers were befuddled about what appeared unusual, considering guard Joe Berger kept his man in front of him the entire play. The play would have given the Vikings the ball on the 3-yard line, but the flag left them kicking a field goal.
• A pass interference call late in the game when safety Robert Blanton appeared to have the better position and was going for the ball. If anything, it ought to have been the Ravens receiver interfering with Blanton.
• A pass interference call late in the game against linebacker Chad Greenway, when the Ravens receiver tripped in the snowy conditions and the ball sailed too high to catch anyway. The flag overturned what would have been an interception to end the game.
It reminds us of how Seattle fans still mistrust the league because of poor officiating in the Seahawks appearance in the Super Bowl in 2006 against the Steelers. Bad officiating creates conspiracy theories.
We urge the NFL office to not levy fines for speaking about the refs who officiated this game. This is one of the situations when complaining about officiating is not a case of poor sportsmanship. It’s about an innate desire of participants in a contest to want fairness. Who wouldn’t? The players and coaches are pointing out to the league and to the fans that the NFL ought to strive to do better.