The Vagaries of Referees

33,000 Eagles fans have signed a petition to not allow veteran NFL official Pete Morelli to work any more Eagles games. Pete seems to hate Philadelphia as much as comedian W. C. Fields did.

“NFL Referee Pete Morelli has a clear and statistically obvious bias against the Philadelphia Eagles,” the petition reads. “Over the last four games that he has officiated that the Eagles were playing in, the Eagles were flagged a total of 40 times for 396 yards, while the Eagles opponent in those games were flagged a mere 8 times for 74 yards. This is unacceptable and puts the Philadelphia Eagles at a disadvantage. Preventing Morelli from refereeing Eagles games will result in a more trustworthy and honest NFL. This will benefit the entire league and keep all claims of conspiracy to a normal level.”

Morelli, 65, is in his 21st season with the NFL and his 15th as a referee. For some reason, it appears he is seriously pissed at the Eagles. Pack it in, Pete! The Referee’s Retirement Home beckons. Although, truth be known, Eagle fans are no walk in the park, either. One Christmas, they even booed Santa Claus.

In the 21st Century, home teams in the NFL have won 56.5% of the games played, largely because total penalties called in every year but two have favored the home team.

There is an old adage in football that the team making the fewest mistakes wins. Penalties are assessed for mistakes such as holding or offsides or pass interference. They are judgement calls made by fallible men such as Pete Morelli.

Odds makers give the home team a three-point built in advantage not because, as they say, ย teams traveling will experience hardships getting to the game. They don’t really, seeing they fly first class, eat in top restaurants and stay at the best hotels.

What the odds makers know is that the penalty numbers favor home teams because refs are human and react to home crowds screaming for penalties to be called, especially deep defensive pass interference calls. Those third down calls made deep in the secondary sustain stalled drives and often turn games around. How often have we seen a Dez Bryant or an Odell Beckham or a LeSean Jackson yell foul as the ball extends just beyond their reach in an act of supplication to a referee who then reacts to screaming home crowds by making the interference call.

Officials do the best they can, the occasional outlier like Morelli being the rare exception to the rule. But in non-reviewable instances of penalties such as the pass interference calls, they are too easily influenced by home crowds because fans know those calls are game changers. Those calls are not reviewable. The referee up in the booth should be consulted on those calls after utilizing instant replay to determine if a penalty has indeed occurred.

Oh, for the simpler halcyon days of referee Red Cashion who, after untangling a mountain of men, penalized a player sneaking in one last punch, explaining to the crowd while waving his clenched fist, “He was giving him the business down there.”

Hut one, Hut two…

10 responses to “The Vagaries of Referees

  1. Phillie should take a page out of the Patriots playbook and instead of petitions win a Super Bowl ….or two…or three, etc

  2. That was the “etc”, trying to save time.

  3. Robert Chambers

    Hey Coach thank you for the post. I have been to several Eagles games in Philly. And those fans live up to all of persona your read and hear about. When they first opened Lincoln Field (the new stadium) i watched the first game which was against the fore mentioned Patriots. Well you know the result of the game as the Patriots won. And while McNabb was trying to get to the locker room a bevy of the very same Eagle fans commented herein were throwing sodas, hoagies, what ever they could find as jogged through.

  4. Barbara slloum

    Great article ๐Ÿ‰

  5. Terry Parssinen

    Coach, Man, you are right about Eagles fans (I am included in that dubious category). But you got one thing wrong: The Eagles fans didn’t just boo Santa Claus, they threw snowballs at him! Merry Christmas, Philly-style.

  6. Terry, you may have the last laugh this season. You have a legit shot at getting to the Super Bowl. The Eagles are that good.