One leftover from the weekend that we wanted to pass along was from Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft’s weekly pregame interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub. The topic was NFL officiating and Kraft touched on how it figures to be an area of focus from a league-wide perspective this offseason.
Question: How concerned are you about the perception, right or wrong, of the officiating in the NFL?
Kraft: I think this year, for the first time, in Week 17 the way the Kansas City-San Diego ended and there were a lot of other things throughout the year, this game, the rules get tweaked each offseason so that the guys who manage the on-field competition feel like we’re doing what’s right for competitive equality and to make the game safe and to make the game interesting. I think at this point the rules have gotten so complicated, and these players are so fast and so strong, that no matter how good you are as an official it’s impossible to be perfect. So I think we need to continue to work on ways to take some of these elements of chance out of it. The officials are doing their best. The one great thing is you never hear anybody question the integrity of the game or the motivation of the officials. They know. People sitting at home on a couch, watching 18 angles, in high-def and super slo-mo, imagine seeing that real time from one angle and having to make a call. It’s amazing how [often] they get it right. But when you’ve got calls like the one in the San Diego game with how the guys were lined up on a field goal, or you have that pushing from the second level in our Jets game – and these rules are changing each season. We have to figure out a way, and technology will play a part in it, I’m sure – and we will as a league figure out a way to help the officials get more perfect, and we won’t stop until they are perfect.
Question: Full-time officials have been discussed. Has there been any discussion on adding an official to each crew?
Kraft: I think a lot of suggestions have come up. I don’t sit in the competition committee meetings so that one very well might have. I know that everything is going to be considered, so that is probably likely to be considered. Different ways of using technology. We talked about centralizing replay. Bill [Belichick] has floated the idea of everything being challengeable, so that egregious calls which today aren’t challengeable can be overturned. I’m sure that over the next 24 months, maybe 36 months, you’re going to see changes [and] tweaks happen to the system to try to get it closer to perfection.