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NFL competition committee is to blame for ref woes

The NFL continues to conduct business with referees with no ounce of consideration of what refs have to go through every week. It's time to scale back on the penalties.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

NFL referees have the responsibility to not only help create a good product on the field, but to also take in the criticism from the general public week in and week out. Being an NFL referee isn't easy. The game on the field moves so much faster than what you see on television. Referees before a play have to monitor illegal procedures on offense, how many men are on the field and offside penalties on defense to name a few.

Then, after the ball is snapped, referees have to watch for holding on offense and defense, clipping, tripping, illegal man down field, illegal forward pass, intentional grounding, hands to the face, facemask, personal fouls, helmet to helmet contact, pass interference,  and illegal contact . That's not even close to what they have to look for during a play. Just a few.

In the era of player safety which the NFL has enforced year by year over the last 10 seasons, it has gotten to a point where the amount of rules that referees have to account for has become too much for them to handle. I can't blame them. As fans of sports, we are always critical of refs when games don't go the way we would like them to go. The refs know what they are in for when the sign on to do the job and I get that. But they are human. And believe it or not, NFL refs don't make the rules. The NFL competition committee does.

The NFL competition committee consists of the following people:

Now, the members of the committee have changed over the years so you can't hold everyone responsible for every rule change that has been made. But at the same time, personal foul penalties in particular are just terrible rules that should never be judged in real time in the field of play. Let's look at this hit by Washington Redskins cornerback Chris Culliver on Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen in week 11 which turned into an interception but was called back by the refs for helmet to helmet contact. The Panthers kept the ball and it completely changed the momentum of a game that was tied 14-14.

Here's another one between the New Orleans Saints and the Tennessee Titans earlier this month where Titans defender David Bass was called for a personal foul on Saints quarterback Drew Brees on a sack that looked pretty standard especially in this era where quarterbacks are generally protected a bit too much. And on top of that, Bass got fined for the hit.

The NFL has become too flag happy. The amount of flags in general this season started to be problematic when after the first-three weeks of this season, the NFL had 730 accepted penalties which broke an NFL record. The amount of flags and mistakes by the refs is making the sport unbearable to watch. Let players play. It's a contact sport.

Personal foul penalties in terms of helmet to helmet contact and roughing the passer are judgment calls. It is impossible for refs to call it right in real time all the time. The game moves too fast and there is no way a defender can tackle a player without using part of his head. If a wide receiver ducks his head at the last moment when the defender was already committed to lowering his head to avoid a head shot penalty, the defender gets penalized anyway.

Personal fouls in my opinion should never warrant a flag on the field unless it occurred after the play. Let the league office review the hits during the week and make the call if the player should be fined or not for it. Too many games across the league are being decided by mistakes or over officiating. This can't continue.