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, 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…