Ross Tucker
Wednesday October 15th, 2008

I can't take it anymore. I am so sick and tired of hearing everyone and their brother complaining about the officiating in the NFL. It is hard to remember another season, or at least the start of a season, when the officials were more heavily scrutinized than this one.

Everybody seems to be getting in on the act of bashing. Owners, coaches, players, the media and fans alike seem to have one point of commonality; they all think the officials are doing a horrendous job and have pointed that out publicly.

If it isn't Jerry Jones criticizing Ed Hochuli and his crew, it's the Steelers' James Harrison suggesting an official might have had an ulterior motive for making a particular call. If it isn't the Saints putting a picture of a missed facemask call on their official Web site, it's Chargers fans incessantly booing for about five minutes straight, as they did Sunday night while their team was up more than 20 points. As for the Dolphins' Joey Porter, well, I'm not sure he even counts because he is always running his mouth about something.

I have one message for all you referee haters out there: Get over it. Project your anger elsewhere.

The officials are going to make mistakes. These errors have been going on since the dawn of the sport and will continue as long as humans are making the calls, which I would venture to guess is going to be an awfully long time. Human error is a part of every sport. It comes with the territory. The key is to accept it and not allow it to be a crutch or an excuse. Or better yet, find a way to overcome it.

Let's be real clear: I do not like officials. Not one bit. Never have and never will. I certainly felt like I had more calls go against me and the teams I played for than went in my favor. But that's the point. Everyone feels that way. The reality is sometimes the calls will go your way, sometimes they won't.

The problem is that people never really make a big deal about it or appreciate it when things go their way. Broncos' fans weren't exactly thanking the officials and deflecting all the credit in their direction after the Week 2 blunder.

What people seemingly fail to realize as they latch on to the most obvious missteps are that there are several less blatant calls that are missed every game. Yet those bad calls that may be more subtle could have had a significant impact on the game as well. The bottom line is that the next time an officiating crew has a perfect game will be the first one.

There are holding penalties that go unnoticed all the time. I distinctly remember telling an official who called a holding penalty on me one time, "How can you call that? I just held this guy three of the last four plays and you threw the flag on the only one where I didn't."

The officials and the league are constantly striving to improve, and that is all we can really ask. There is no conspiracy. The game is not played in slow-motion with HD clarity, so we can't expect it to be refereed that way. The greatest way we can get things right is the review process, and that process is constantly being tweaked by those with the best interests of the game at heart. Until we reach perfection, which will obviously never happen, teams and players need to find a way to overcome any mistakes as opposed to dwelling on them.

Lost amid the crazy week the Cowboys are having is that a growing segment of fans believe it is time for the Boys to dismiss Wade Phillips as head coach. To which my overwhelming response is, fire him for what?

Anybody who has watched the Cowboys play this year realizes that Phillips doesn't really do very much anyway. Firing him would be relatively pointless. Jason Garrett handles the offense. Brian Stewart handles the defense. And Wade, well, he just wades up and down the sideline watching, from what I can tell.

Now, a lot of head coaches delegate the play-calling responsibilities to coordinators and watch the game with a focus on managing the clock and the ebb and flow of the contest. But do any other coaches look like they are doing less than Phillips? He honestly looks like a fan that the team bus picked up in Plano on the way to the game and gave a sideline pass to.

Unlike most head coaches, who exhibit somewhat of a stoic demeanor, Phillips is extremely expressive with his emotions. When Romo unleashes a touchdown strike, Phillips looks like a little leaguer who just found out that the whole team is going for ice cream after the game. When things aren't going well, Phillips wears the forlorn expression of a seven-year old that had his lunch box stolen.

The reality is that firing Phillips doesn't matter because what he does, for the most part, doesn't really have that much of an impact on the games we see on Sunday. At least last Sunday, against Arizona, they gave him a headset for part of the game. That kept up appearances for a while.

Phillips is universally liked by almost everyone who has had contact with him, and for good reason. But in this instance, that hurts him, because the common man looks at his demeanor among the cast of stars in Dallas and suggest the team lacks discipline. So firing Phillips during the season and installing Garrett, a young coach not too far removed from his playing days, will somehow whip this team into shape? Give me a break. The Cowboys problems have more to do with the individual deficiencies of key personnel and the lack of team chemistry brought about by their owner than they do with the head coach.

I saw something on Sunday in Indy while calling the Colts vs. Ravens for Sports USA Radio that I have never seen at any level above Pop Warner and venture to guess I will never see again. A player wearing jersey No. 48 at right guard.

Chris Chester was the back-up interior guy for the Baltimore Ravens this year for the first five games, meaning he was the next guy to go in should an injury occur to a center or guard. He is a tremendous athlete, however, and the Ravens chose to utilize him as a blocking tight end as well, given their injuries and lack of depth at the position. Chester had been getting a couple of snaps at tight end when the Ravens promising, young starting right guard, Marshal Yanda, went down with a knee injury late in the game.

In came Chester, wearing 48 so he didn't have to report as an eligible receiver every time he appeared in the game at tight end. Chester proceeded to report to the official every play that he was now ineligible, which is pretty difficult when your team is trying to run a no-huddle and is coming from behind.

Chester will no doubt switch to an ineligible number as he gets back into the starting lineup to replace Yanda, who is lost for the season. But I am sure it was fun for him while it lasted and I highly doubt that I will ever see the oddity of a skill position number playing guard any time soon.

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