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Originally published Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 8:01 PM

Danny O'Neil

FOX Sports NFL officiating analyst needs to call it both ways

Mike Pereira, who analyzes NFL officiating for FOX Sports, seems to have something to say only when officials get the call right.

Seattle Times NFL reporter

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A blowhard.

That's what Jon Gruden is, according to the man who used to be in charge of the NFL's officials. Then Mike Pereira said Gruden was a loudmouth as a coach for good measure.

Given all the things a football official gets called, that's pretty tame. But there's also something that rings so very hollow about Pereira taking to his pulpit at FOX Sports this week to lob schoolyard taunts at Gruden.

Now, Gruden might be disrespectful of officials, as Pereira said, and the former coach has shown himself ignorant of the rules at times. During Monday night's game between New Orleans and Atlanta, Gruden didn't recognize the difference between a hit to the head and neck area of a defenseless receiver, which is a penalty by rule; and a hit to the back of a defenseless receiver, which is not.

The problem is, Pereira has assumed the role of the overzealous defense attorney. FOX summons him on Sundays mostly to analyze replay challenges, and his appearances generally conclude with him concluding that the referees have gotten it right yet again.

Analyst is the title that FOX hangs on Pereira, but advocate is more appropriate. For the most part, his input is useful, and his ability to explain — in real time — what rule is being applied and why is a benefit to viewers. He's giving insight into a part of the game that is one of the most important yet least explored by fans: the rule book.

There's nothing wrong with paying a trained official to evaluate which calls were right, but what about the ones that were wrong? That should be part of the analysis, too, otherwise it amounts to nothing more than an officiating infomercial.

I haven't watched every broadcast Pereira has appeared on, so I can't tell you he has never second-guessed a call. I can tell you that I've never heard him deem a call erroneous while the game is going on.

That simply defies logic. Football is a game that is played by humans, coached by humans and officiated by humans. There are going to be mistakes in all three categories. This is going to happen even if the referees have the most earnest intentions, which I believe they do, and a vast understanding of the rules, which I'm certain they do.

Having Pereira come on to explain only the correct calls is at best insulting, and at worst disingenuous. The primary objective isn't to evaluate the officiating for the viewers, but to explain how very right they are.

When Michael Vick complained about hits against him not being penalized like they are for other quarterbacks, Pereira called it "a bunch of bull."

Please. The referees already have a whistle. Do they really need a mouthpiece on one of the league's broadcast partners, too?

Pereira has shown he'll argue the referee was right even if the referee admits he's wrong. That was the case last year after referee Bill Leavy told reporters in Seattle that he "kicked two calls" in the fourth quarter of Seattle's Super Bowl loss to Pittsburgh.

"In my opinion, he was too hard on himself," Pereira wrote on FOX Sports afterward.

Pereira argued that it was a mistake, singular. That only the illegal block called against quarterback Matt Hasselbeck following an interception was a botched call.

"He didn't 'kick' two calls in the fourth quarter," Pereira said.

Hmmm, and Gruden's the blowhard?

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @dannyoneil

About Danny O'Neil

Danny O'Neil will comment on issues, events and personalities in the NFL. His column will appear on Sundays during the regular season. He also posts most days on the Seahawks Blog.
doneil@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2364

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