Is the System of Officiating Broken?

Case in point: Stamps are charged with roughing the passer when a defender punches the air in celebration. This punch is mis-interpreted by Ireland who from his vantage point believes was a malicious act aimed at the QB. The flag thrown and the penalty immediately called without consultation.

Is it standard practice for judgment calls to be made and upheld by any individual official without discussion or consultation?

Referees have no problem debating the legitimacy of touchdowns, fumbles, ball spots, play in bounds or completions. These are black and white calls for the most part. I can't recall subjective calls being discussed in any way. Am I to believe not one of the on-field officiating crew could correct Ireland on this call? Does there exists the provision for referees to confer and perhaps pick up the flag for these erroneous judgment calls or will we have games decided by these poor calls?

Possible suggestions:

  1. I think that with every critical penalty, (that is, calls that decide the continuity of a drive or standing of a score) each official should have to signal or raise his hand to acknowledge agreement with the flag or conceding that they had no view on the play. Any official who signals otherwise would then be consulted in an attempt to reach a consensus on what ACTUALLY happened. This would apply on judgment calls or not.

  2. Have a TV official in the booth signal down to the referee on a subtle headpiece like those worn in UEFA and Premiership soccer referees. The contention with the use of replay in general has always been the delay in the flow of the game. I for one would not be opposed to having feedback come in from the video booth (even on subjective penalty calls) if the referee was able to be consulted with replay information on the fly, seamlessly, without delay. What I'm saying, is any use of replay should be decided by an official in the booth and not on the field-side box. It would save time especially if the on-field ref was on an ear piece.

Instead of what we had in the Calgary-BC game this situation may have played out:

Jake throws the flag and looks immediately to his crew. All but one of the officials signals acknowledgment in the penalty. Ireland talks to the dissenting official who pleads that the BC defender merely punched the air. After the dissenting official indicates he was 100% positive there was no malicious intent, Ireland proceeds to announce that there is no flag on the play. The game continues with a more accurate account of officiating.

If no one on the field caught the mis-call, Ireland checks quickly with the booth over his microphone. Through his ear piece, the booth indicates there may have been a mis-interpretation and quickly looks over it again. The booth reports in a matter of seconds that the punch clearly seems to have been a case of celebration with no aggression shown against Pierce. Again, Ireland picks up the flag.

Lets say Ireland got it right. He looks to his crew who all signal agree or concede the decision to Ireland. He then quickly checks 'booth' perhaps by simply saying 'booth' and they reply 'agree'. The game continues seamlessly.

I know it sounds ideal, but I honestly believe there exists both the technology and on field system to call better football games. This without yet addressing the talent pool and quality of training.


Just a really tough break at a bad time in the game. I think that kind of missed call may be unavoidable, the pace of the game is also a consideration. I do think that it shows how celebrating over plays while in the field of play has to be curtailed by the players. If the player had just made the sack and got back to the huddle there would have been no controversy. Let the fans tell you how great the play was by cheering and have the players be concerned with just kicking @$$.

I'd like to mention how great this game ended up being and I don't want to take away from it with this critique of officiating.

However, I think it's a valid point generally in the CFL.

The phantom punch is NOT what was in question here. Here is the rule:

(g) All rushing defenders must attempt to avoid forcibly hitting a
passer in the pocket, at or below the knees, either if their path to the
passer was unrestricted, or if they are coming off a blocker.
Rule 7, Section 2, Article 3(h)

The passer WAS in the pocket, but was moving forward. The question is when does he become a runner? This is subjective. The officials have been instructed to error on the side of caution when dealing with roughing the passer.

I think that is why the coaches should be allowed to challenge one per game. It was clearly NOT roughing the passer. Its call like this one that take away from what was otherwise the most exciting game of the season.

I saw Pierce roll out of the pocket and I saw no contact after the play. He was tackled while running, not passing. I'll have another look when I can but I don't recall him being in the pocket. Regardless he was tackled and not contacted afterwards. I don't see what there was to be cautious about other than the phantom punch.

I used what I interpreted in this case as an example to illustrate what I see as an officiating system which makes subjective calls hastily and without confirmation or consultation. Even if this particular case was called correctly, I think the manor with which these decisions are made produces a less accurate account of officiating.

IMO the rule has to be tweaked somewhat. The passer was still IN the pocket, but was moving forward and NOT in a vulnerable position. The coaches will have to get together and change this rule, because by rule, this was roughing the passer.

Did anyone else not think the hit that put Buck out of the game should have been a penalty ? The Stamp player made it look like he tripped and landed on him (unavoidable) but the replay clearly should he jumped on him and did not trip.

Anyway, what can we really expect from a bunch of part-time officials ? Jake probably had to go into work today at the bank, or courrier or where ever his real job is.

He has a job where you have to put a lot of thought into what you are doing.. I really expect him to be saying "do you want fries with that?"... the time we fans were livid at the call...the poor Lions fan sitting next to me with his stamps g'friend was cringing in mortal fear...when the replay was aired the crowd was bordering on civil unrest...

...obviously we did not see what Jake was a crap-filled call no matter which way you look at it...

...that being said though, it was on first down, so no one can make the assumption that it directly led to the subsequent TD, the Leos may have ended up in the endzone without the call happening anyway, and the case for this assumption was certainly strengthened by their next few drives which seemed to glide with ease through the Calgary D....

...anyways, I interesting idea joedavtav, in theory I like it and think it could work....

Have to agree with Ned on this one, the TV commentator was the one that kept saying the hit was ok, but to me it did seem to break the rule. BTW, the rule has nothing to do with coming in late and he was in the pocket.

guys theres no rule about where you can hit the QB if he still has the Football!! so what the heck are you talking about??

Two rule changes for 2007 prohibit players from:

  1. Forcibly hitting a passer when he is in the pocket at or below the knees whether the defender has an unrestricted path or is coming off a blocker [reworded clause 7-2-4 ©].

  2. Leading with the head and using it as the initial or primary point of contact with a passer, and specifically defenders may not duck the head and launch at a passer [new clause 7-2-4 (f)]. This applies regardless whether the passer is in or out of the pocket.

I believe this applies if the passer has released the ball or not.

A player cannot also hit a qb if he slides feet first.

Here is the Clip of the play. I think that the call was absolutely ridiculous...
There is no way that this tackle can be considered roughing the passer


By rule this was the correct call. But like you I think the rule stinks the way it is written. It does not say anything about running in the pocket, just says in the pocket. Technically he was in the pocket, but in no way was in a vulnerable position. This will hopefully be revisited by the rules committee this winter.

I disagree
the rule states

  1. Forcibly hitting a passer when he is in the pocket at or below the knees whether the defender has an unrestricted path or is coming off a blocker
    The tackler simply grabbed his ankle/lower leg. I seriously doubt that shoe-string tackles were the target of the rule change

I agree that the hit on Pierce should have been a penalty - It was clearly contact that was made with the intent to hit the QB while in a vulnerable position. And Trey Young knew darn well that he had a chance to injure/bang up the QB and send him out of the game.

A very subtle cheap shot, but a cheap shot none the less.

Hmmm, wasn't it also Young that sent Geroy Simon out of the game? Coincidence - not likely.

Looks like we have a new Cheap Shot King in the league.

It's sad when the only way your team can win is to injure players on a better team to advance - Green and Red uniforms come to mind.

that call was ridiculous; if he is rushing forward towards the line of scrimmage he has become a running back. The rule does not apply as such because he has become a running player moving forward as he has not released the ball as a passer. How about we just start playing flag football and take the officials right out of the game. INEPT.....

I agree with you that he was acting as a running back and not a passer, but that is not specified in the rule. The call was to the letter of the rule. The problem is the writing of the rule. This has to be changed.