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NFL commish Roger Goodell defends referees despite ongoing controversies: ‘I’m very proud of what they do’

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has repeatedly come to the defense of the league’s often maligned referees. This week, he lauded officials for their performances this season, saying they are doing “an extraordinary job.”

Goodell’s latest assessment comes after a 2023 season that was riddled with a long list of on-field controversies. The angst towards officiating from coaches, players, and fans carried over into the playoffs.

The Chiefs were irate over the referee’s decision to not throw a flag on the Miami Dolphins on a critical play during the wild-card round game.

“I’m proud of our officials,” Goodell during his recent visit to Michigan, via the Detroit News. “I think they do an extraordinary job. They aren’t perfect — they’re making decisions out there in a matter of seconds — but what we’ve seen in a variety of circumstances this year, without getting into any specifics, is they get it right, and they’re still criticized.”

The downtown Detroit area continues to make preparations ahead of April’s NFL Draft. Ford Field is also located downtown, and the Lions home stadium was the site of one of the most controversial officiating moments of the 2023 season.

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The officiating crew drew the ire of the NFL world when a Lions go-ahead two-point conversion late in the game was negated over a penalty during a late December game against the Dallas Cowboys. 

There was a discrepancy over which offensive lineman reported as eligible prior to the snap. Lions offensive tackle Taylor Decker said he was the player who reported as eligible, but fellow lineman Dan Skipper was deemed to be the person.

Roger Goodell visits with referees

On almost a weekly basis this season, a perceived bad call seems to have overshadowed whatever actually took place on the football field. Nevertheless, Goodell’s job requires him to protect the integrity of the NFL at all times. 

Roger Goodell visits with referees

Although NFL referees can receive a 401k, they do not receive other benefits and are therefore are not considered full-time employees. Many believe the referee’s part-time job status has only made the league’s perceived officiating issue worse.

Goodell also complemented officials for their ability to handle the complexities that come with their jobs.

“What we’ve seen in a variety of situations this year — without getting into any specifics — is they get it right, and they’re still criticized,” Goodell said. “And you know, there are two teams out there, so — [for example], is he offsides or not offsides? That’s just part of their job. They are the hardest-working people I see. They take great pride in it. There are individuals who work to try to make sure they’re contributing to the game, but we have technology to try to do that, too.

“I’m very proud of what they do.”

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

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