My mom used to tell me, "If you have nothing good to say, then don't say anything at all."
I wonder, though, if you have a few good things to say are you then allowed to comment on the bad, as well? Well Ma, I am assuming so.
Lately, there has been a lot of discussion on the quality of the officiating in the CFL around the league. Everyone from the fans, media, owners, GMs, coaches and players, have been casting a shadow of doubt over the men who don the black and white stripes.
With all those people pointing their fingers at the referees, it would seem logical to assume there may be a problem.
Jim Daley the CFL's senior advisor for officiating development and football ops has stated the league is doing everything it can to improve the quality of the calls. But he has also stated the refereeing is top notch and the problem does not lie with the officials but actually with the neighsayers' interpretation of the application of the rules.
So, I guess in plain English, he is saying his refs are not perfect, neither is our understanding of the game.
And apparently there are many football minds that lack sophisticated knowledge of the rules, including Hamilton's GM Marcel Desjardins, who suggested importing American refs. Now, although the suggestion of hiring Americans to ref a Canadian game seems extreme, the idea of hiring full-time refs is not.
The CFL and its referees can only work with the resources they are given. If the league cannot afford to hire full-time refs, then they must get the most out of the part-time guys they have. It is kind of like sending the reserves into war -- they train on the weekends and know how to fire a gun so they must be ready ... right?
The refs have a thankless job because when the right call is made, it is expected, and when a call is blown, a hell breaks loose. And lately so much hell has broken loose the league issued a memo stating that fines will be given to teams for excessive verbal abuse of the officials.
On defence, our job is to play hard and fast. When a questionable call goes against you, it hinders your ability to play at a high speed. If I cannot go full speed to the quarterback because the ref will flag me the split second as he is throwing the ball, I will never get any pressure on him.
Hesitation then sets in because you do not want to cost your team 15 yards and then all of a sudden, you're not playing quality football. And when players stop playing quality football, they lose their jobs. Maybe that point has not been hammered in at 'referee school.' If I were a ref, I would hate to be the reason some kid lost his job all because I threw my flag a little too quickly or in poor judgment.
Oh yeah, I have also heard when the league acknowledges one of their own has made an error they send an apology letter to the team affected by the poor call. I wonder if my coach would accept an apology letter from me if I blew a snap or missed a tackle. Probably not.
The worst things to do as a player is complain about officiating after a loss, because it looks like you are making excuses. This is why I choose to write this article after a win. This way, I have no ulterior motive except for the betterment of our game.
I realize the zebras do their best, but there needs to be a sense of urgency in doing better. People's careers depend on it. And next time I am bearing down on a QB, please apply my mom's logic to the situation: 'If you don't have a good flag to throw, don't throw one at all!'
HITS TO THE HEAD
- When A.J. Gass retires from football, he could try out for the U.S. Track and Field team to throw the hammer. He showed great form and technique as he launched John Comisky's helmet down the field before being ejected from Saturday's game.
- And finally in a case of only in the CFL ... During pre-game warm-up, Eskimos offensive lineman Kevin Lefsrud asked Tom Higgins if he could hitch a ride back to Calgary after the game. Apparently, he had a wedding to get to. Tom told him to come ask him after the game which is coach-speak for, 'Only if we win.' Not sure if he did get that ride.