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Former ref Scott Green: Punishment of officials arbitrary PR move

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 05: Referees confer after the ball was batted out of the end zone by outside linebacker K.J. Wright of the Seattle Seahawks following a fumble by wide receiver Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field on October 5, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Lions 13-10. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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Earlier this week, former NFL referee and current CBS rules analyst Mike Carey criticized the NFL for their decisions to suspend and reassign officials for mistakes during games because he feels they serve to weaken officiating.

Another former referee has chimed in with a similar opinion on the way the league is handling errors by officials this season. Scott Green, who worked three Super Bowls and was president of the National Football League Referees Association, wrote a piece for USA Today castigating the league for the punishments that Carey took issue with on Twitter.

“The League is predictably handling the issue no differently than the others that characterize Commissioner Roger Goodell’s regime: arbitrary punishment of an individual for a fast public relations fix,” Green wrote. “It’s a reactive approach that may give some short-term satisfaction to one team’s fans, but it doesn’t address improvement.”

Green also criticizes NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino as “a master of technologies and replay” who never officiated a game and doesn’t understand what it’s like to be on the field with “22 large, fast and extremely skilled players colliding for three hours.” He takes specific issue with Blandino not doing more to correct mistakes during games from the NFL’s officiating command center.

It’s a fair criticism in an age when communication between those with the video screens and the referees on the field is possible in real time. There’s little reason why missing Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright’s illegal bat should be apologized for after the fact rather than corrected without affecting the game on the field.

Green also makes calls for better training and evaluation of officials that are hard to find much fault with, although it’s harder to agree with the former referee’s opinion that their brethren shouldn’t be punished for failing at their jobs. Mechanisms that can fix bad calls should be used and that includes getting rid of officials that make too many of them.