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NewsLeague confirms SJ Vernatchi out for Week 6, not calling it suspension

League confirms SJ Vernatchi out for Week 6, not calling it suspension

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.

Ben Austro
Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

5 thoughts on “League confirms SJ Vernatchi out for Week 6, not calling it suspension

  1. The NFL needs to get off the high horse of leaving all final determinations in the hands of the on field head official. They could have made contact with the crew and fixed this in real time. Not to have is bogus.

  2. I will guarantee you, NONE of these officials on that crew will make the playoff officiating roster this year. Wait and see. But I know they won’t.

  3. And I can guarantee you that your guarantee is wrong. One call in one game does not carry that magnitude.

  4. RefGuy2222: Contrary to popular belief, “All-Star” crews do not work playoff games. Playoff games are assigned very simply. Assuming one is eligible (there are guidelines, i.e. a rookie official can’t work a playoff game; one can’t work a Super Bowl unless you have a conference title under your belt, etc. etc. plus the current Super Bowl officials work a prelim playoff game also) officials are, in essence ranked by number of foul ups I mean grading system. Considering the pre-requisites are met (and game assignments have to be adjusted per the pre-reqs) # 1s get the Super Bowl, #2s and #3s get the conference title games, and so on. What this means is 10 out of 17 officials will be assigned a playoff game. What other industry rewards underperforming bottom dwellers with such benefits? With the current system, even if you are in the bottom half of rankings, you will still get a playoff game. The officiating in the regular season is putrid enough with the crew system; it has potential to get even worse in the playoffs (and does) because now, the crew system is not in place and you slap 7 officials together that have no rapport/communication with each other, which was built up over the season. As any official worth his salt knows this is a recipe for disaster. Clearly, the system needs to be changed from the ground up, starting with the hiring system. The big joke years ago, was between the 10th and 11th ranked official. The 10th ranked official would be pissed off stuck freezing his butt off in a wild card game in Chicago, and thought “Damn, if I screwed up a few more calls I would be headed to Hawaii for a week at the Pro Bowl!” Yes, the #11s got the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. Great system, isn’t it? The union put this system in place, and as it goes with all unions, mediocrity is valued, and of course, El Deano supports as he tries to justify, the current playoff assignment system.

  5. Cell phones and unions are essentially the same…both are no longer used for the good they purported in their respective origins. Unions “hide” poor employee performance, and cell phones allow people to ‘hide’ behind texts and user names.

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