NFL

Where did that whistle come from?

Mike Pereira on the accidental whistle
Mike Pereira on the accidental whistle
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Mike Pereira

Mike Pereira was the NFL's Vice President of Officiating from 2004-09, having spent the five seasons previous to that as the league's Director of Officiating. He also served as an NFL game official when he acted as a side judge for two seasons (1997-98). Follow him on Twitter.

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You can run, but you can’t hide. Mistakes will always catch up with you, especially in a digital world with instant replay, so it is better to own up to them.

In the Week 9 Carolina-Washington game, there was an instance where the officiating crew was made to look foolish.

With 34 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams took the handoff, ran to the right, and took it all the way down the field for a touchdown. However, an erroneous whistle blew as Williams was near the sideline on the 17-yard line, but that whistle was not acknowledged.

Did it come from the stands? Did it come from the field?

There’s no question, it came from the field. The referee in the game, Carl Cheffers, acknowledged as such.

“Yes. The line judge blew his whistle,” Cheffers told pool reporter Mike Jones of the Washington Post after the game. “We had a lot of discussion about it. We just felt when the whistle blew, that the player would have already scored a touchdown. So, we tried to piece together if we had to spot -- by rule, we would have to put him down when the whistle blew, and we tried to decide where that spot would be, and we felt that spot would be in the end zone. ...

“ ... That by the time the whistle blew, he had already crossed the goal line. That was our decision, and that’s why I announced that the ruling on the field is touchdown.”

The problem with that statement is that television shows the whistle blew as Williams was at the 17-yard line. An erroneous whistle is not reviewable, so the onus is even more on the official who made the mistake.

The line judge blew the whistle and he should have owned up to it immediately. That is a cardinal sin in officiating: You have to own up to your error and admit it especially when it comes to an erroneous whistle.

The line judge who made the mistake should have spotted the ball where he blew the whistle – which, by the way, was at the 17-yard line.

In the aftermath, the statement by referee Cheffers to the pool reporter makes absolutely no sense. It’s completely contrary to what happened.

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He was right when he later explained that when the whistle is blown erroneously, the team in possession has the option of taking the ball at the spot where the whistle blew or choose to replay the down. But he was wrong when he stated that the whistle didn’t blow until after Williams scored.

In Cheffers’ defense, he’s probably repeating what the line judge told him. So it all goes back to the line judge – he made himself look bad, and he took his crew down with him.

Look, I’ve got a lot of friends on the field who officiate in the National Football League, but if an official does not have the guts to admit his mistake then he doesn’t below in the league.

I’m sure that there are a lot of guys in striped shirts that will resent that I said that, but the integrity of this official is now in question and it will be in the future. This mistake is not representative of the other 120 officials in the league.

Tagged: Panthers, DeAngelo Williams

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