Hervey pleads with officials to throw fewer flags

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:30 AM ET

Ed Hervey isn't going to get his wish.

After another penalty-filled display of football on Thursday night at Commonwealth Stadium - the Eskimos and Bombers combined for 31 penalties for 298 yards - Edmonton's locker-room leader is begging CFL officials to show some restraint and reduce the number of flags.

"Our plea is to let us play- (and) we're talking across the league," said Hervey.

"All of sudden this year, it's become more difficult to move the ball.

"We need to take a look at this sudden rise in penalties, not only on this team, but across the (CFL).

"It's ridiculous. People are soon going to stop watching the games on TV and stop coming because it's become bad."

But while the Eskimos are on a record-setting penalty pace and the latest CFL stats show infractions are up on a league-wide basis, the officials aren't going to be instructed to show some leeway with players for the rest of the year.

"In terms of us inflicting damage on the players and the game - I am sorry, but I reject that," said the CFL's director of officiating George Black.

"I think it's erroneous to blame the officials.

"The players need to play according to the rules."

And that is a big problem in Edmonton this summer. The Esks have taken a whopping 69 penalties over five games.

They're averaging nearly 14 infractions per contest - and are on pace for a stunning record of 248 penalties this year.

However, Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia isn't laying any blame at the feet of the officials for Thursday's loss.

"I am not going to start bitching about the officiating," he said.

"It's not the reason we lost. We need to be more disciplined."

While Hervey is also careful not to blame the officials for the loss, he's adamant that they need to change their tune.

"Somebody needs to explain to the officials that 25 penalties (between two teams during one game) is just too much," he said.

But Black disagrees.

"I can tell you right now that it would be very easy for us not to call fouls, but that is not in the best interest of anybody in the game," he said.

"We need to make sure it is a fair game. And the evaluations I am getting from the guys that evaluate the (officiating) crews are suggesting the calls they are seeing are valid calls."

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FLAG FOOTBALL

The latest CFL stats -- entering play this week - show penalties are on the rise across the league.

Through 5 weeks

2006: 424 penalties over 18 games

2005: 417 penalties over 20 games

In Edmonton, the Esks are on pace for a new record.

2004: 220 penalties - franchise record

2005: 202 penalties

2006: on pace for 248 penalties


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