This flap with Richard Sherman once again beings up the inconsistency of NFL officiating. Here's the answer:
Quite simply, throw money at it. With the advent of HDTV & DVRs, people at home have noticed that the officiating meted out by the NFL is less than judicious. I don't necessarily think the problem is worse than it used to be- just that people are noticing it more. The television audience, that is. With replays and multiple camera angles, the viewer at home usually has a clearer view than the officials on the field. The calls that are reviewable are a step forward- but it's not enough. Players are getting away with holding every single game. Certain QB's get more "roughing the passer" calls than others. Blatant penalties are often missed, and are instantly public knowledge, and the result is...an apology from the NFL. (And a whole lot of angry fans) How nice. Sometimes a fine is assessed (to a player who can easily afford it). Many times, fines are given even after penalties are not called on the field. Right there is a pretty good indication it's time for an upgrade. It's affected the outcome of games. It's subjected players to injury. And again, the NFL's official response is....an acknowledgement and an apology. Certainly, the game can't be replayed.
So, what to do? Considering the NFL is a multi-billion dollar industry, there's a lot they could do. Nobody is doing anything until His Royal Highness Roger Goodell gives his Royal Approval, though. I'm not an expert on football rules, nor on video surveillance. But I know hypocrisy when I see it. That would be King Goodell & "player safety".
If I drive my car through a yellow light in certain cities, and I'm just a moment too late- I get a fine. So do you. We know the NFL has real-time reviewing going on in the NFL HQ in NYC. Quadruple it. With real officials. We know the NFL claims to take officiating very seriously. Yet, with all the money on the table, one would think it would be a worthwhile proposition to subject every inch of the field to sharp video surveillance. Any player committing any infraction would be immediately seen. I understand that as fans, we don't want to watch 3 hours of officiating. It slows the game down, and already makes it unwatchable at times- as each review cuts to another commercial break. If every penalty was called- we would be watching 4 hour games on average. So, there would need to be a system implemented by which the process is expedited. I'm all for it. In fact, I don't feel we need to go through the whole shpeil of the official stopping the game, taking the field, & announcing the penalty. Maybe sometimes, depending on the severity of the infraction- but I don't exactly know. Again, I don't have all the answers- but they exist.
"Let them play" is a common refrain. The problem with this is, many athletes will take every opportunity to get away with anything they can. The officials sometimes call it, sometimes not. It's come out that certain QBs (Brady & Rodgers) draw more roughing calls than others. As if this were a revelation. Look at Tom Brady the wrong way, and it's 15 yards.
Of course, much has been made of the NFL not employing full time officials. This is where you throw the money. Employ full time officials. Train them for a couple of years before even using them. Keep them employed, sharpening their craft in the offseason. Vice president of NFL officiating Dean Blandino has never been an on-field official. He's the guy in charge of video review. King Goodell thinks the world of him. The on-field officials are left to interpret penalties or non-penalties- and the on-field officials are apparently subject to some scrutiny. My problem is- it shouldn't be interpretive. Holding is holding. If a player is holding, and the official doesn't see it- the eye in the sky would. Chop-chop. Holding. 5 yards. Period. Just call it. On the screen. On the PA. Without the freakin ceremony. Move the ball 5 yards back.
What constitutes "roughing"? Is that up to the ref, also? I'd make that a standardized thing. If Brady gets the call, but Newton doesn't (as much as I'm not a fan of Newton...OR Brady)- it's not right. Fix it. How much are you guys making? Billions? Get it right. Get it quick. Keep the game moving along. Your Highness, (Mr. Goodell) You have the technology. You have the latitude to change anything you want. Get the officiating straight. Or the product loses credibility.
I'm aware the NFL has an officiating system. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I've noticed that nothing on the fans' end is interpretive or overlooked. My cable company doesn't charge me less if the games are bad, or if the officials screw up. The parking guys don't sometimes charge, sometimes not. Beers at the game are all the same size-and overpriced. The same commercials are run 8 times a game. The NFL is generating a lot more money than it should as it is. Figure it out. Get it straight. The players will knock off the illegal chop blocks & holding if they know they're going to get caught. Which will lead to less penalties committed. Thus, less injuries. The games might eventually go faster.
As I say, I don't know every single that's wrong, (though I get the gist) or precisely the best way to fix it. But I know it's broken. Seems the eye in the sky don't lie. Seems like some professional full-time officials are warranted. Ratings going down? Hmmm. Well- even handed officiating couldn't hurt. Might cost several million dollars, but you'd have a better product. Every season there are a couple of whoppers. How about if you throw some money at it, & fix it?