Everyone complains about officiating in the NFL and, really, every sport at every level. Without that outlet, we would be forced to accept simply that our favorite player or team failed on their own merits rather than some nefarious turn of events.
Yet there is something different about the grumbling we've heard and participated in during the 2013 season. On top of the usual questionable-pass-interference calls, borderline holding penalties and missed sideline catches have been a collection of fundamental errors.
Over the past three months, we've had one veteran referee misapply a rule regarding dead-ball fouls and another issue the wrong penalty for an illegal challenge. A third lost track of an exception to rules regarding defensive substitution. The list goes on. Most recently, referee Jeff Triplette's crew was confused about the correct down during a two-minute drill by the Washington Redskins.
That mistake came in the same week when two coaches, the Arizona Cardinals' Bruce Arians and the Tennessee Titans' Mike Munchak, spoke publicly about calls they forwarded to the NFL for review. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000, and the team was put on notice for modification or forfeiture of draft picks, after he illegally stood on the white sideline marker -- even as referee Clete Blakeman's crew missed the corresponding penalty call during the game.
NFL officiating, veteran Washington Redskins receiver Santana Moss said this week, is "the worst by far since I’ve been in the league."
Until Amazon invents drones to replace human officials, we should expect and accept performance below perfection. But is it reasonable to expect more consistency and fewer mistakes? Members of ESPN's NFL Nation sought suggestions for doing just that.