NFL officials have carried the brunt of frustrations from team front offices, players, and fans for all of the league’s 100 years. Recently, however, officiating is becoming a stronger force impacting and influencing game outcomes.
In 2018, it seemed all of the NFL refs were working hard to hold down the Cleveland Browns. Crews performed so poorly while officiating Browns’ games, that network commentators and fans of opposing teams called attention to the officials’ hideous execution.
It is not difficult to cite example after example of blatant no-calls, blown calls, and inexplicably strange calls. However, I am concerned with calls (and no-calls) from the officiating crew led by referee Shawn Hochuli.
Although anyone can have an off day on the job, it seems as if Hochuli puts significant effort into using his flag-waving abilities to screw with NFL teams. In 2018, Hochuli and his crew set an NFL record calling 253 penalties totaling 2,164 yards.
In a 2018 game in Tampa Bay, Hochuli drew the ire of players, fans, and NFL insiders when he reversed a call on Tampa Bay safety Jordan Whitehead for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback, Baker Mayfield.
In his no-call explanation, Hochuli said, “the quarterback was still a runner and therefore is allowed to be hit in the head.” Oh- ok then, so helmet to helmet hitting IS ok with the NFL? Wait, it ISN’T? Well, did someone send a memo to Mr. Hochuli, or a fruit basket to Mayfield? No, I didn’t think so.
Even gaining negative attention from Tom Brady made has no difference. Hochuli and company officiated the Tennessee Titans vs Jacksonville Jaguars game on Thursday, September 19. The game had so many penalties that Brady sent several Tweets expressing his frustration.
After the week four match up between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens, Shawn Hochuli and his crew are under scrutiny for a no-call on Ravens’ Cornerback, Marlon Humphry for grabbing Browns’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. by the throat and slamming him WWE-style to the turf. Humphry then proceeded to choke Beckham.
Umpire, Dan Ferrell stood nearby during the incident, and while the pair drew offsetting penalties, Hochuli said there was no reason to eject Humphry for choking Beckham.
So, to clarify, is the NFL all good with choking wide receivers? Oh, not really? Super, someone needs to take a minute and share this helpful information with Hochuli.
As we close in on week five of the NFL season, I would love to see an improvement from the officiating crew led by Shawn Hochuli. If he can’t figure out what constitutes a penalty, maybe he could find work in a WWE ring; they like choke slams there.