The Challenging Career of an NFL Referee

NFL refsReferees in football, or any sport for that matter, face controversies and quarrels with players and coaches every game. It is part of a referee’s job to stay composed without showing any signs of bias. How can they possibly deal with that every game?

Players and coaches always make accusations against the officiating crew, sometimes they’re reasonable, other times they are perceived as an excuse for losing the game. Players and coaches also complain when a referee talks back in an unethical manner.

During the Redskins/Eagles game yesterday, Redskins left tackle Trent Williams made accusations that one of the referees made unkind remarks to him and called him a disrespectful m—– f—–.

John Keim of ESPN quotes Williams, “It’s very unprofessional. It sucks. I’m at a loss of words. You never expect that as a player to have to beef with the refs also.”

These types of accusations are rarely brought to the public’s attention because referees don’t talk to players like that. The job of an NFL referee is to stay composed and not show signs of being biased or disrespecting other players/coaches.

Having said that, those are not the only obstacles referees face every game.

The officials in an NFL game are the most qualified individuals to make the right call at the right time. However, nobody is perfect. Referees make mistakes and are scrutinized as the ‘bad guys’ when a team loses.

More often than not, a blown call does not affect the outcome of the game, but when it does, the officials’ reputation is set in stone.

For example, an officiating controversy arose from the Packers/Seahawks game in 2012: the final play of the game was ruled a touchdown for the Seahawks after receiver Golden Tate shoved a Packers defender, which should have been called for offensive pass interference, before giving himself enough room to make the game-winning catch. One missed call was the difference, and criticism from the media, coaches and players arose for several weeks after the game.

The only problem was that those were replacement referees during the strike last year. It’s hard to believe that the most qualified refs would make such a disputable call.

But when the replacement refs were called upon for that game, they were expected to know the rule book front-to-back. It just goes to show you how much pressure the refs are under each game. One play, one missed call can be the difference between a win or a loss as well as a positive and negative reputation.

How do referees deal with such criticism from the media, fans, coaches and players?

Everybody is guilty of blaming the referees for a missed call at least once in their lifetime, but are the referees the only one’s to blame? It often appears that way.