2008 NFL Season in Review
Hochuli’s Case For Legal Blindness Rages On
NFL referre Ed Hochuli barely had time to answer all the hate mail he had received over the past two weeks before he stepped front and center into more controversary.
Hochuli made another questionable call Sunday, when he incorrectly flagged Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers for what he deemed was a helmet-to-helmet hit on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
In the first quarter of the teams’ game in Charlotte, Panthers cornerback Richard Marshall intercepted Ryan’s pass and returned it for a touchdown, but the score was erased when Hochuli penalized Peppers for roughing the passer shortly after Ryan had released the ball.
“Ed came over and explained to me, he said that I hit him with my helmet,” Peppers said. “He said I hit him with my helmet in his head and that’s what he called. It wasn’t really roughing, late hit. It was just my helmet hit his helmet, so it was just one of those calls that, you know, player safety is what that was about.”
Replays displayed on the Bank of America scoreboard showed that Peppers had initially made contact with Ryan with his shoulder and then his helmet, which is deemed legal contact.
Under current NFL rules, penalties cannot be challenged and, therefore, cannot be subjected to review.
Panthers head coach John Fox, who admittedly missed the play live, expressed his displeasure once he was allowed to see the action played back. “I saw the replay, and I wasn’t real fond of it then.”
Atlanta was rewarded a first down as a result of the penalty, but they were eventualy forced to punt. Despite losing both of their starting offensive tackles, the Panthers won easily, 24-9, racking over 400 yards of total offense.
After the game, Peppers stated his case, saying similar incidences are bound to occur during the course of a game.
“I’m not trying to hit him with my helmet. I’m not trying to hurt him, but you know, it’s football so I’m going for the tackle so helmets are going to get hit sometimes.”
Hochuli, who is in his 20th season as an NFL referee, botched a call during a game in Week 2 between Denver and San Diego. He ruled that Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler had thrown an incomplete pass when replays clearly showed that Cutler had fumbled. Denver was allowed to keep the ball and won minutes later with a touchdown and two-point conversion.