NFC West: Bernie Kukar

Facebook friend Patrick sent a message to me suggesting the NFL erred in sending referee Bill Leavy to Seattle Seahawks training camp. He said some fans booed and called Leavy names when they spotted him on the practice field.

Also via Facebook, Rams fan Brian suggested Leavy's transgressions at Seattle's expense in Super Bowl 40 paled next to the errors another referee, Bernie Kukar, made at the St. Louis Rams' expense in their Super Bowl 36 game against the New England Patriots (Brian might not recall this, but Leavy's crew made a couple tough calls against the Rams, too).

I do recall Rams fans complaining about the Patriots roughing up Marshall Faulk and preventing him from releasing as a receiver out of the backfield, but New England played well enough to win that game, I thought. Similarly, I think the Seahawks did not play well enough to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl Leavy officiated.

With all these warm feelings for referees and officiating coursing through fans, I'm guessing the NFL will be a little more careful in assigning referees to future training camps.

Three pairings I'd like to see during 2011 camps:

1. Leavy and the Seahawks. Perhaps the team could invite fans -- or even former coach Mike Holmgren -- for a question-and-answer session. The league could sell highlight videos ranking Leavy's calls from best to worst.

2. Walt Coleman and the Oakland Raiders. Fans might remember Coleman for his controversial (but correct) tuck-rule interpretation in the Raiders' AFC divisional playoff defeat to the New England Patriots following the 2001 season. Coleman hasn't worked a Raiders game since that memorable ruling. Camping in Napa can't be all that rough.

3. Ed Hochuli and the San Diego Chargers. The referee famous for his muscled physique also became known for the whistle he blew prematurely at the Chargers' expense during a 2008 game against the Broncos. Ironically, Hochuli previously had not worked a Broncos game since flagging Denver nine times for 113 yards during a game against San Diego.

Previously: NFL officiating assignments.

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