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New England Patriots

New England Patriots

On Wednesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held his annual Super Bowl week press conference. It’s always Goodell’s longest open-media availability session of the year, where he fields questions about a range of league-related topics.

Towards the end of the press conference, Goodell was asked about the current state of the league’s officiating – which came under intense scrutiny late in the season. Almost immediately, Goodell insisted the perceived issue is overblown.

  • “We listen to all the voices, let’s just start with that point,” Goodell began. “But we like to go to the facts ultimately.” (No, Roger Goodell saying he “likes to go to the facts” isn’t the ‘surprise’ statement referenced in the headline, but still one Patriots fans will probably get a kick out of).

    “I think for us, when you look at officiating, I don’t think it’s ever been better in the league,” Goodell asserted. Keep in mind this statement comes after a year that saw officiating mistakes – most of the rather blatant when viewed on replay – often be a or even the leading story for the league after a full week of football.

    “There are over 42,000 plays in a season. Multiple infractions could occur on any play,” Goodell added, continuing his defense. “That’s hundreds if not millions of potential fouls, and our officials do an extraordinary job of getting those. Are there mistakes in the context of that? Yes. They are not perfect, and officiating never will [be].”

    Goodell isn’t necessarily wrong here. With so many plays run over the course of a 22-week season (including playoffs), not every flag thrown or not thrown will be correct.

  • Feb 8, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media during a press conference at Phoenix Convention Center prior to Super Bowl LVII. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Feb 8, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media during a press conference at Phoenix Convention Center prior to Super Bowl LVII. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

  • At the same time, so many issues from the 2022 season went beyond the throwing or not throwing of a flag. From Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin seemingly getting ‘baited’ into a penalty by a ref late in a key game, to multiple instances of instant replay seemingly still resulting in wrong calls in key moments in games. On multiple occasions, refs missed a team having 12 players on the field. There was even an instance in last week’s AFC Championship Game when the Kansas City Chiefs were seemingly given an extra down without explanation.

    In speaking about the advancements in replay, Goodell suggested that may be hurting the public view of officiating. “I think we all have to realize through the quality of what we see on our broadcast, you’ve never been able to see the kinds of things that you can see today,” he said later on. “And you see it in super slow-mo, you see it where you can actually stop it. Sometimes this distorts a call potentially.”

    In the end, Goodell went back to fighting the assertion that there is an issue with NFL officiating, rather than addressing whether or not the issue actually exists. “Again, we want to go back and look at the facts,” Goodell continued. “We may not agree with every TV announcer, or every officiating expert, but we think our officials are doing a great job.”

    Wrapping up his answer though, he did admit there is room for growth. “We’re always going to look to our competition committee and everything else we have – how [do] we improve our officiating? But it will never be perfect,” he admitted. “The reality is our officials are held to an incredibly high standard, and I think they meet it. Will we try to get better? You betcha.”

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.

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