NFL 2022 Season - PS4


Enough Already
by Dennis Ranahan

I want you to go to your window now, open it wide, and yell at the top of your lungs, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

Okay, that is a key line from Peter Finch’s role in the 1976 movie Network, but it so often applies to things we confront these days. And what I’m as mad as hell about is the National Football League and their amateur approach to refereeing their games.

On a Monday night in Cincinnati, the football world stopped for something more important than the final score of the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills. In a more than freak event Bills safety Damar Hamlin took a hit on the left side of his chest just as his heart ended a regular beat. The worst possible fraction-of-a-second impact caused a catastrophic event that stopped the 24-year-old’s heart.

The NFL has taken extra precautions in recent years to reduce the number and intensity of injuries and now have more than two dozen medical professionals and equipment at every NFL game. It was that preparation and quick reaction that no doubt saved Hamlin’s life.

Imagine for a moment, if the unit called onto the field to aid Hamlin was an internal auditor, sales coach, financial service owner, direct sales account manager, photographer, independent brand partner and educator.

Hamlin would have died.

But, those are the professions of the seven men assigned to officiate that Monday night game in Cincinnati. The men entrusted to officiate games on the field are not full time professionals, like the medical personnel that saved the popular young Bills player.

It was a quaint idea a 100 years ago that the NFL would be officiated by men who worked the games while dedicated in another field for their full time professions.

Today, the NFL is not eight teams that travel to away games on trains or buses in the east. As recently as the 1970’s, when I served in the front office of the Oakland Raiders, players had off-season jobs. George Blanda and Pete Banaszak worked for REA Express, Fred Biletnikoff and Gene Upshaw owned restaurants, and a number of the athletes worked construction or sold insurance.

I had carried Blanda’s final three years of his contract with the Raiders to his agent, Howard Slusher, in Los Angeles and the three amounts went up $5,000 each year, but never got as high as $100,000. That is why the players took their five months away from their teams to supplement their salaries.

Today, that is not necessary. Individual players commonly make more money than the Raiders entire payroll of 1975.

Things change.

But, what hasn’t is officials that work part time and find themselves refereeing Super Bowls after the age of 50.

That was the case in last year’s Super Bowl, when the first play of the second half had the ref get a 12-yard head start on a pass play that he was trailing by eight yards when Tee Higgins pulled Jalen Ramsey’s face mask before catching a pass that was ruled a legal touchdown. The ref had a 12-yard head start and lost a 50 yard dash by 20 yards.

Can’t blame him, show me a man or woman past 50 that can keep up with the best athletes in the world in their prime? Won’t happen. And so they are often out of position to make an informed call, particularly on pass interference. Which was the call that robbed the world of a great Super Bowl finish last year when the Cincinnati defensive back made one of the great stops in the endzone that should have brought the Rams a fourth-and-goal from the eight-yard-line to decide Super Bowl LVI.

But that drama never happened, because a ref wrongly nullified a great defensive play with a flag that gave the Rams a first and goal from the one-yard-line. Two plays later, Los Angeles won the game that was as much decided by the refs as the Bengals and Rams offensive and defensive game plans.

Let’s all celebrate that the league isn’t as lax on the health of their players and that Hamlin has the prospect of a full recovery.

But let’s not allow these amateur refs to decide the outcome of games.

The NFL needs to have full time refs that work year round at their craft and will eliminate five minute discussions on the field between seven men trying to understand the rules. A system that has a referee center where they work all year on their own physical fitness and understanding of the game with an honest review of their most recent performance on the field. A stable of trained professionals where most of them have weekly assignments during the season while others are in training to compete for the job.

You know, like the teams do.

So, go to your window, wait, that was 1976 stuff. Nope, write a letter or go to your phone or the internet, and flood the league office, your local teams and the media outlets with demands that has this enterprise that is now billions and billions of dollars past where they were when it all began, and have the officiating deliver what us fans, players and coaches deserve.

The league office is located at 345 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10154. The NFL office phone number is (212) 450-2000. If you want to contact Roger Goodell, his office is located at 280 Park Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10017. Goodell’s fax number is (212) 681-7599 and he receives emails at:

Go ahead, let them hear you.