The Voice of Reason: Five for Fighting … in the NFL?

NFL-logoOur beloved, NFL, formerly known as the National Football League, may be changing its acronym.


It could be the, No Fun League, or the Not For Long league, possibly the, Non-Functioning League!

Perhaps the best acronym would be the NUMEROUS FLAG LEAGUE! To help illustrate my point, let me show you this table. It displays the number of penalties called per season, for the past five years, and the corresponding lost yards due to penalties.

2014 to-date 2013 2012 2011 2010






14,474 yds 28,029 yds 28077 yds 28,487 yds 27,045 yds

Despite all the extra, added benefits that offenses enjoy, it appears that the flag totals are remaining constant. The amount of penalties called, and the yardage amassed, appear to be in line with previous years. I bet you can guess which penalties are the most frequent. Ready?

In the last three years, the following are the most popular penalties called, by a LONG shot!

  1. Offensive Holding (Who saw that one coming?)
  2. False Start (Really? THAT one??)

false startThere are NO other penalties that come close to these two. The interesting tidbit I found was that in 2011 the reverse was true; False Start was the most popular penalty called, followed by Offensive Holding. It was this way for several years.

It’s very true that you could ostensibly call holding on every play, but now there are many more penalties added to the rule book.

  1. Hands to the Face
  2. Horse Collar Tackling
  3. Roughing the Passer (You can no longer make contact with the QB above the shoulders.)
  4. Defensive Holding (Yeah I know, but they are just NOW calling it.)
  5. Illegal Contact (See above, and thank you Seahawks defenders.)
  6. Pre-Snap Movement, aka False Start (No more head bobbing, QBs too.)
  7. Lining Up Over the Center on PATs, FGs, and/or Punts
  8. Use of NFL Equipment as a Prop (No dunking on goals, but leaping into stands is ok.)

It’s no wonder NFL games, which used to be a good 3-hour investment, are being turned into 3.5-hour marathons. It’s about who can outlast who.

Onto the officials who help determine, or in some cases literally determine, the outcome of games. If I were to ask you which referee’s crew called the most penalties, could you tell me? Do you know? Lucky for you, I do. Here they are as of two weeks ago.

images (1)
Carl Cheffers

The number one referee whose crew calls the most penalties is Carl Cheffers.

According to the data from ESPN, if you see Carl show up to your game, expect a long, drawn out affair.

images (2)
Clete Blakeman

However, if you get Clete Blakeman, he tends to let the players decide the outcome.


I have a great idea on how to curb penalties. What if the NFL treated in-game penalties like NHL does?

For every holding call, the offending team plays a man down for 2 plays, a power play of sorts. For every false start penalty, you play short-handed for 1 play.

Personal fouls get a “5-minute major,” where the offending team plays short-handed for 5 plays. Yes, I know this sounds silly, but so does turning a 3-hour game into a 4-hour beatdown.

Sure, this solution may be far-fetched, but the point is that there’s nothing wrong with brainstorming something new and innovative when it comes to assessing penalties. (But, can you imagine the damage you could do playing 9 players vs. 11? Exciting! Scoring would go through the roof. Then, that would make a 4-hour game bearable.)

Just a thought… What creative ideas do you have? I’d love to hear them! Hit me up on Twitter and give me “the scoop!”

Ronnie Garcia is the Voice of Reason at The Scoop. He is also an avid guitarist, educator, and all around smarmy guy. You can follow him on twitter @CapnDD.

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