Veteran NFL referee Ed "Big Guns" Hochuli appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated this past month, likely becoming the first NFL official to grace the 'cursed' cover.
Nobody in the history of humanity has ever uttered the "L" word regarding sports officials.
Over the years, NFL officials have slowly but surely been gaining more recognition and fame. Growing up, the only official I ever "knew' was the legendary Red Cashion. That was because of Red's special way of announcing decisions to the crowd. Cashion especially got a great deal of joy letting the home team's fans know about decisions that benefited their club.
"FIRST DOOOWWWWWNNNN!" followed by an enthusiastic first down arm signal. In my memory, he's the only ref who could actually pump up a crowd. I loved this guy, he was awesome.
Instant replay went completely away for many years. Then it came back in the form of "coach's challenges". Over the past couple seasons, some plays have become "automatically reviewed", such as scoring plays and turnovers. Fine.
Sometimes, there are conflicting rules on the same play. Week one of the 2010 season found Detroit's Calvin Johnson CLEARLY catching a touchdown pass, but the arbitrary and subjective "did he control the ball all the way through" test was applied. Johnson caught the ball, was holding it in one hand, and as he fell down, the ground knocked it free.
If you are able to HOLD a ball, then you have CAUGHT the ball. But officials didn't see it that way, and called it an incomplete pass. Okay....then how come a runner who dives near the end zone, is considered to have scored if the ball "breaks the plane of the goal line"?
Never mind that, I'm not here to talk about that. However, I'm here to tell you that Ed Hochuli made a hideous 'judgement call' in today's Cowboys-Browns game. In overtime, Miles Austin of the Cowboys caught a pass, began turning up-field, was hit while turning and fumbled. Cleveland recovered.
Unfortunately for the Browns, and for the rules of logic and common sense, Hochuli called it incomplete. Fine. At full speed, it could be seen that way, sure. But because it was called incomplete, it was not reviewable.
WHAAAAT?? Why, exactly? If a coach is willing to risk losing a timeout in order to make sure the correct call was made, then review the damn thing! Hoculi flat out refused to do that.
Whatever, its your call, you're the ref. Then, for some unknown reason, he gets on his microphone to announce to the world that the Browns wanted the play to be reviewed, but because of 'the rules' they weren't going to.
All that was missing was Hochuli going, "So there! I'm the ref! Nah nah nah boo boo!"
It was such a critical non-call, and it led to Dallas maintaining possession, kicking a field goal, and winning. However, due to Hochuli's VERY unprofessional 'announcement', something is clearly wrong. By saying and doing that, he was basically saying, "Oh yeah, the call may be wrong, but if we review it, I may have to admit making a mistake."
As for his Broncos vs. Chargers 'non-fumble' a few years back, don't get me started.
I'm 99.999% certain we'll hear a message to the effect of "Oops! Our bad, we should have reviewed the play." in some BS political-correcting damage control announcement this week.
Okay, rant over....for now.