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Will NFL take action against Morelli’s crew, again?

Pete Morelli, John Harbaugh


After a clock error that didn’t impact the outcome of a Monday night game between the Steelers and Chargers, the NFL suspended without pay the side judge responsible for keeping track of the time and otherwise downgraded the rest of Pete Morelli’s crew. So now that Morelli’s crew blatantly failed to blow dead the last scrimmage snap in the Jaguars-Ravens game when the Jacksonville offensive players weren’t set at the snap, what will the NFL do?

The league already has admitted the error. The question at this point is the consequence. For high-profile mistakes made in prime time (the Steelers-Chargers game and the Lions-Seahawks illegal bat blunder, both on Monday nights), the NFL opted to take unprecedented measures to impose discipline beyond the normal grading process. Rob Vernatchi was suspended with pay for the San Diego clock error, and Greg Wilson was moved from a Sunday night game between the Patriots and Colts.

So for a huge mistake that took a win away from the Ravens and gave it to the Jaguars in a game that was subsumed within the cluster of 1:00 p.m. ET kickoffs, will the league take action?

If it cares about consistency, the NFL should. If it cares about getting all calls right, the NFL should do fewer full-blown, dog-and-pony replay reviews and more real-time, quick-fix, know-it-when-you-see-it, buzz-the-ref-and-fix-the-mess officiating.

Imposing discipline on Morelli’s crew will do nothing to undo the damage to the Ravens, or to legitimize a race to the bottom in the AFC South in which the Jaguars picked up an undeserved edge. The takeaway from this mess shouldn’t be to take away assignments or money from Morelli and the other officials on his crew, but to come up with effective ways of getting it right, all the time.