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Mike Pereira says the NFL’s rulebook is too thick

Redskins team coach Shanahan argues with referee Hochuli during the team's NFL football game against the Lions in Landover

Washington Redskins team coach Mike Shanahan argues with referee Ed Hochuli during the team’s NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Landover September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)


Mike Pereira used to be in charge of overseeing the enforcement of the NFL’s rules. Now he says the NFL has so many rules that the officials can’t keep them all straight.

In an appearance on FOX Sports 1, Pereira described officials not knowing the rules as a “very big deal,” and he cited three examples in the first three weeks of the season: The officials wrongly enforced offsetting penalties after the 49ers-Packers fracas, the officials wrongly gave the Vikings a 15-yard penalty instead of charging them with a timeout when Leslie Frazier challenged a play that was being reviewed automatically, and the officials wrongly picked up a penalty for a chop block on the Titans because they didn’t know that chop block penalties can be called on quarterback runs.

Pereira held up a copy of the rulebook and asked whether the rules need to be overhauled so that they’re easier to understand and enforce.

“The question has to become, has this manifesto become a little bit too big and too confusing?” Pereira said. “For the third time now in three weeks, we have the officials mis-enforcing a penalty.”

Each NFL offseason, the Competition Committee proposes a few new rules, and the owners vote to adopt some of them. Over the course of many offseasons, that results in a lot of new rules. Maybe what the NFL needs to do is spend one offseason studying the rulebook and looking not for items to add, but for items to subtract, simplify or clarify. A simpler rulebook could result in better officiating.