BOSTON (CBS) — With Rich Keefe filling in for Jones, he talked with Michael Hurley from CBSBostonSports.com to talk about the alarming rate at which penalties are being called in the NFL’s preseason.
“It’s just not really a watchable product when every play ends with a flag. It got to the point in the Patriots game where we didn’t even see the replays and we didn’t even really care to see the replays, because it was sort of like — OK, another play, another flag,” Hurley said. “So when we get to the point where we’re apathetic about calls and we don’t even argue whether they’re good or bad, it’s going to be a problem.”
Hurley noted that Dean Blandino, the NFL’s head of officiating, has come out and said that officials will continue to call defensive holding and illegal contact penalties the same way when the regular season begins. So, is there any way that we don’t see so many flags once the games start to matter?
“I don’t really know how much of a voice fans, media, anyone has. We’re obviously all complaining about it. I don’t know if that lands anywhere, but if this carries on into the regular season, I think people are going to be outraged to the point of replacement ref levels. And I think public perception and public outrage sort of got that situation to resolve itself, so it might be something like that,” Hurley said. “I think the more people complain about it, the more of a chance there is to change it, because right now I don’t think it’s in the plans to change the rules.”
On what kind of impact all of the penalty calls will have on ratings, Hurley said they probably won’t have any at all, because we are a nation addicted to football.
“On one hand, I think most fans watch their teams’ games, and outside of that, I think the Red Zone Channel has become so popular that in a lot of ways if you just watch the Red Zone Channel for three hours, you might not even notice as much as if you’re watching it [normally]. As a nation, I think we can all admit that we’re addicted to the sport. We know we’re kind of full of it when we act like we’re not going to watch for certain reasons,” he said. “Just look at the preseason ratings and that tells you all you need to know. I watched Friday night because I had to. If I had a choice to get out of there and do anything other than watch that football game, I would have taken it. But it was the highest-rated show in Boston by a huge margin, so if that game got high ratings, I have to imagine that it’s only going to go up when the games actually count.”
He likened the current outrage to the reaction when the NFL implemented additional rules to protect the quarterback a few years ago.
“When those penalties came on, it was really sort of outrageous and people were pretty upset, but I think over the course of the past three years, we’ve kind of mellowed to it and come to accept it,” he said. “This is a little harder, because at least you can see those quarterback penalties, at least it’s the guy who takes the snap and you can sort of say OK, that’s the quarterback, he’s in one spot, we know he’s important, whatever. If you have every receiver, every touch on the outside of the field, away from the ball, not even affecting the play, I think it has the potential to be much worse than that — which is hard to believe, given the reaction to all of the quarterback rules they put in.”
Hurley also talked about Stevan Ridley’s fumbling problems and also a little about Rays manager Joe Maddon’s latest public complaints. Listen below: