By: Barry Barnes, Founder
Fresh off experimenting with on-the-field scenarios and the implementation of the new rules, the NFL Caretakers took to the turf for the 2016 NFL season with high expectations and goals.
NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino and his officials seek to execute their mission flawlessly to keep the game the pace of the game fluent, and its integrity intact.
New York Giants center Weston Richburg quickly challenged the caretakers and did not get the message of the new personal foul rule, that any player constructing two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls of a specific type in a contest will automatically be ejected.
Richburg was ousted from the Washington Redskins/New York Giants showdown in Week 3, as John Hussey, leading Terry McAulay’s crew, and his caretakers were on top of the action.
McAulay missed the first three weeks of the season due to health issues. NFL Football Operations had to joggle schedules. Apparently, the crews did not miss a beat as Hussey substituted for the 19-year veteran in Week 3, Craig Wrolstad stepped in for Week 2 and Carl Cheffers supported his colleague in Week 1.
McAulay returned in Week 4 to officiate the Dallas Cowboys/San Francisco 49ers matchup.
However, the first quarter of the 2016 season did not go smooth for the NFL Caretakers and NFL Ops lost some friends off the field.
Sunday, Sept. 25, NFL senior supervisor of officiating Al Riveron suffered the loss of his 24-year old son, Tyler Riveron. The news shocked NFL Ops.
Riveron was the first Hispanic referee in the NFL, and after eight years of working the sidelines, he joined Blandino in the front office in the capacity he proudly honors. Riveron and his family laid his son to rest in Miami.
Former NFL umpire Chad Brown transitioned on Friday, Sept. 10 after battling a challenging illness, one day following his 69th birthday.
Brown prowled NFL sidelines for 23 years and had the distinguish pleasure on making two Super Bowl appearances (XXXV and XLV). The Texas A&M-Commerce alum retired during the 2014 season.
With all sincere condolences, they will be missed, but never forgotten. In tribute to their homecoming celebration, let’s honor them, and their families, with what they were passionate about – great officiating.
WEEK 1 – PHILADELPHIA EAGLES VS. CLEVELAND BROWNS
— Dean Blandino (@DeanBlandino) September 26, 2016
First up, some humor.
Referee Walt Anderson’s crew had a funny miscue. With :51 left in the first quarter, Eagles kicker Caleb Sturgis attempted a 46-yard goal, but missed. Albeit, if the focus was on the field and back judge, no telling what the call truly could have been.
John Jenkins (field judge) had the signal for ‘good,’ while Greg Wilson (back judge) signaled ‘no good.’ Sturgis actually missed. The Caretakers got a laugh from that one.
WEEK 1 – CAROLINA PANTHERS VS. DENVER BRONCOS
Gene Steratore and his crew kicked off the season in the Thursday night affair featuring the Super Bowl 50 rematch.
Late in the second quarter with 3:01 remaining, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton rolled to his right and sprinted to the endzone with Broncos linebacker Shane Ray and safety Darian Stewart on his back. Newton drove for the score while stretching the ball across the goal line.
The ruling on the field was a touchdown, as line judge Gary Arthur gave the signal recognizing that Newton’s left knee hit the ground after the ball reach pass the goal line.
After review, Arthur’s great on the field call stood.
WEEK 1 – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS VS. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
At a critical time, head linesman Ed Camp was absolute.
With 1:11 remaining in regulation, the Chiefs were down 20-27. On first-and-goal, Chiefs running back Spencer Ware took the handoff up the middle, but got lost in the pile as he crossed the goal line. While players from both squads were signaling, Camp came rushing to the mix with his arms up ruling the play a touchdown.
After review, Ware was able to get across due to the great push up front by Chiefs tackle Mitchell Schwartz.
The Chiefs’ touchdown forced the game to overtime, availing them the chance to win, which they ultimately did.
Solid call by Camp.
WEEK 2 – BUFFALO BILLS VS. NEW YORK JETS
Ed Hochuli and his crew on this call provided tremendous teamwork.
Through three quarters and a half, the Bills finally got into the redzone of the Jets with 1:48 left in the contest. On second-and-10 from the Jets’ 18, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw a dump pass to running back Mike Gillislee and he took off up the field.
Gillislee drove for the goal line over Jets safety Marcus Gilchrist and he appeared to fall short of the goal line. He was marked down inside the 1-yard line, but the whistle was not blown.
The development was eventually reviewed, and replay shown Gillislee extended his right arm across the goal line with the ball, while his left hand, not forearm, kept him off the ground. Hochuli echoed, “Since the wrist is a part of the hand,” Gillislee was not considered down. The ruling on the field was reversed to a touchdown.
WEEK 4 – NEW YORK JETS VS. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
This is a great example of holding the whistle.
Late in the fourth quarter with 2:22 remaining in the matchup, Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick dropped back to throw deep, but he was hit and loss the ball in the process. Unbeknownst to everyone, Jets wide receiver Charone Peake scooped up the ball and ran to the endzone.
The officials held their whistle, and after review, Fitzpatick’s arm was not going forward, so he fumbled.
Great awareness by Peake, and Carl Cheffers’ crew.
WEEK 4 – ATLANTA FALCONS VS. CAROLINA PANTHERS
Midway through the third quarter with 5:05 on the clock, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan went deep down the field to wide receiver Alrick Robinson. Robinson made the catch towards the endzone before Panthers safety Kurt Coleman pushed him out of bounds.
Field judge Jimmy Buchanan of Hussey’s crew thoroughly followed the process of the play and catch to signal the touchdown. After review, Buchanan’s call was among the countless correct on-the-field calls made by the NFL Caretakers for the first quarter of the season.
And there will be more to come.