AFL Referees: Making NBA Refs Look Perfect

As a resident of the Northwest, and a guy who watches a lot of AFL games, I’ve been subjected to a lot of terrible refereeing. A good 80 percent of the worst refereed games I’ve seen have involved Dave Cutaia’s crew, and I’m sick of it.

When dealing with poor refereeing, I’m used to the NBA’s model, where the idea seems to be to err in favor of the team that’s losing by a considerable amount, or perhaps the home team, to try to keep the game interesting for longer. With Cutaia’s crew, however, it always seems as though they want to be part of the winning team, helping the superior squad gain even more of an advantage through horrific calls and non-calls.

Below are a few photos (and videos) of the most obvious missed calls and made-up calls. It’s obviously not a comprehensive list. Sometimes I was looking at a different part of the play through my camera. Sometimes the call they were making was based on nothing, so there’s no clear picture of what they might have been calling, such as the “hold” that erased Duane Brooks’ first return touchdown. But they are some egregious calls that I’m confident would have been made if they’d been made by the home team.

When you have a team with vast talent and experience advantages like the Rattlers have over the Thunder, it’s really just unseemly to give them more of an advantage through biased refereeing. 20 of the Rattlers’ 33 penalty yards came on the Thunder’s last possession of the game as the referees attempted to make the final ledger look a little more even.

The Rattlers do not need your help to beat the Thunders of this league. Please stop jumping in and helping the guy who is kicking the other guy on the ground.

Hawthorne Illegal Rush
We’ll start this off light. Anttaj Hawthorne, the nose tackle, rushes illegally around the edge and chases Kyle Rowley out of the pocket, resulting in an incompletion. I’ve seen the Thunder get called dozens of times when the MAC linebacker rushes straight ahead from where he was lined up because the line moved to the side; Hawthorne is actually illegally twisting and there’s no call.
Not Hands to the Face
Yes, a flag was thrown on this play. It was even for illegal hands to the face. Unfortunately for Portland, it was called on them because Jeraill McCuller also had a hand full of facemask on a Rattlers defender. Of course, when you’re only looking for penalties on one team, you tend to miss the others. Who could expect referees to have an eye on the quarterback while he’s throwing the ball? This was not the only time Rattlers defenders swung their arms at Thunder quarterbacks’ heads, either. None were flagged.
Illegal Block
Rattlers’ returner AJ Cruz got a couple of return touchdowns. This happened on his second one; Tyre Glasper had his arms wrapped around Hayes from behind for a good three yards going into this tackle. Was there a flag? Of course not. But I guess you can’t expect referees to be paying attention to illegal blocks a whole half-yard away from the ball carrier. Video
Apparently Holding
This was called, for holding. If you’re the Thunder, you can be called for holding despite not holding on to any part of a defender. But I guess getting pushed down is now a penalty if the other guy falls over you after he pushes you over. Video
Not Pass Interference
Shortly after the ignored hands-to-the-face penalty earlier, where Rowley was hit in the face, Duane Brooks attempted to come to a fourth-down pass that was thrown in his direction. Marquis Floyd, as the Rattlers defensive backs had done all night on sideline passes, is not looking for the ball at all and pins Brooks to the boards, making contact before the ball gets there. Was there a flag thrown? Of course not. I guess you can’t expect refs to be watching the targeted receiver and defensive back, however.

Kyle Rowley may not notice the field tilted against him, but we do.

This crew throws more flags than all but one referee team in the league, but when it comes to the established powerhouse teams, they do all they can to protect them. If those of us in the Northwest are going to be subject to their reign of terror, at least force them upon some American Conference teams as well, so everyone can be acquainted with the terrible product they create. And let those of us in the Northwest see some games with crews that might not make the game all about themselves.

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