The NFL has confirmed to Football Zebras that side judge Rob Vernatchi will be off the field for Week 6, however they aren’t calling it a suspension.
NFL spokesman Michael Signora said in a statement to Football Zebras, “Side judge Rob Vernatchi will not officiate in Week 6 as a result of the failure to notice that the game clock was incorrectly started late in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers.”
Pro Football Talk reported on Wednesday that the disciplinary action was a suspension with pay, and a source for Football Zebras confirmed that Vernatchi was suspended. It appears that the league is giving Vernatchi a bye week, as each official gets two weeks off during the season; however Vernatchi had a bye two weeks ago.
We reached out multiple times to Jim Quirk Sr. and Jeff Triplette, the executive director and president of the NFL Referees Association, respectively; we have not yet received a response. Vernatchi cannot speak to the media under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement
Signora also said that the league is still evaluating disciplinary measures for the clock operator who made the error in the first place. There are also repercussions for referee Pete Morelli’s entire crew, as all members of the crew have secondary responsibility for the accuracy of the play clock. At minimum, this will be a downgrade for those officials when determining playoff assignments. (Line judge Sarah Thomas does not qualify for the playoffs, as this is her first season.)
In addition, back judge Greg Wilson was moved from a primetime game this week to a Sunday afternoon contest to minimize his exposure after a missed call two weeks ago.
Statement from NFL spokesman Michael Signora
Side judge Rob Vernatchi will not officiate in Week 6 as a result of the failure to notice that the game clock was incorrectly started late in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers. The mistake will also impact the evaluation of the other six members of the officiating crew, led by referee Pete Morelli.
The official game time is kept on the stadium scoreboard, but it is the responsibility of the side judge to supervise the timing of the game. Had the side judge or any of the other six on-field officials noticed the timing error, they could have corrected it.
The status of the clock operator in San Diego, who is an NFL employee, is under review. The Chargers’ next home game is in Week 7 on Sunday, October 25.