Jim Daopoulos spent more than a decade refereeing in the NFL and more than a decade as an NFL supervisor of officials. He knows the game – and the art of refereeing – inside and out.
Even he thinks this might be the worst-officiated season he’s ever seen.
“Well, it’s right up there with the worst of the worst,” Daopoulos told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It’s just been a bad season and they just seem to become magnified because they appear to be on prime time in the Sunday and Monday night games. That’s just very unfortunate for the officials.”
The latest high-profile blunder came on Monday Night Football, when the Patriots were robbed of a potential touchdown pass to Danny Amendola due to an inadvertent whistle.
“That’s an inexcusable mistake by an official,” Daopoulos said. “That’s as bad as it comes. The only thing that I think may be worse is losing a down, but that’s just a lack of concentration out there and that just can’t happen at this level. You don’t see this in college. Very seldom do you see it in high school. One of the first things you’re taught as an official is get the whistle out of your mouth and watch the play. Let the play develop. And for some unexplained reason, the line judge just reacted to this, and I just kind of felt that he was a little intimidated by what was going on out there because he’s coming off a very serious injury.
“He’s one of the better line judges in the National Football League, but he was run over on a punt play on the first week of the season in Denver. He had nine broken ribs, a broken clavicle, a dislocated shoulder and he was in the hospital for a while. And he’s just (getting) back. I think he might be a little bit gun-shy right now and he saw the players coming at him and he kind of lost sight of the ball. But no excuse at all. Because again, these are professionals and it had a major impact – it could have had a major impact – on the outcome of this game.”
The refs also made an incorrect ruling on the final play from Foxboro, saying Sammy Watkins was down inbounds when he clearly made it to the sidelines untouched to stop the clock. The Bills should have gotten the chance to fling a potential game-tying Hail Mary. Instead, the game was over.
“Again, this crew really had a tough game,” Daopoulos said. “Unfortunately, I just can’t go with the explanation that the receiver gave himself up. It just doesn’t make sense to me. That’s a college rule if that receiver goes down on the ground. In the NFL, if that receiver goes down and he’s trying to get out of bounds, especially in the last minute of the game and he is untouched, that is a simple, simple call and should never ever be missed. That’s an embarrassment for an official to make a mistake like that.”
Still, Daopoulos does not feel the NFL needs to hire full-time officials. In fact, he answered the question immediately with a resounding “absolutely not.”
“I shouldn’t speak so quickly on that,” he said, “but they have the best of the best right now. Making them full-time is not going to eliminate errors. They’re still going to make mistakes. There’s not a whole lot to do during the week. The better officials right now in the National Football League work seven days a week at it. They study their rules. They don’t need to be full time; they work at it full time right now. So I don’t think it would make a bit of difference if they were full-time. You’re still going to have problems. I just don’t think the league wants the officials to be in there full-time.”