Because the NFL is cyclical, we often revert to the same arguments to combat recurring issues — or at least the appearance of recurring issues.
“There aren’t many Mondays that go by that there aren’t at least 28 to 30 head coaches that are ticked off about certain calls that were missed or weren’t made. You see it all the time,” Payton said on Pro Football Talk Live. “And it’s the frustration that the system currently hasn’t improved. We say it has, but it hasn’t.”
He added: “We’re the only league that has officials that have primary other jobs, which is really madness. We can pay these guys. They should be full-time NFL officials, and they should be working throughout the week, communicating. And I know they get their hour in here, their hour in there, and maybe even more than that. But by and large, every other sports league employs full-time officials. And ours, these guys all have other significant jobs. And I just think it’s very difficult to do with the speed of the game.”
Payton was all across the board during his interview, referencing pass interference calls that were missed against his own team, and no-calls that impacted other teams around the league. He lauded the way colleges handle replays and even weighed in on the touchback rule.
The complaints are understandable and should repopulate amid a season where officiating has come under the spotlight in the most significant way since the strike season. However, the NFL believes that they have the right group in place — one that, according to their own internal studies, are already between 95 and 97 percent accurate (and even if independent analysis would suggest otherwise, the league believes they are 97 percent accurate, which is insanely good). Would officials dedicated to the game full-time shrink their margin of error to two percent? One?
This week alone, Payton joined Redskins coach Jay Gruden, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Panthers coach Ron Rivera in some pointed criticism toward NFL officials. The Raiders this weekend set an NFL record for penalties in a game (23 for 200 yards).
Whether or not Payton ever sees the change he’d like in the NFL, it’s an argument that won’t die down anytime soon.