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Stripes may tweet whistle, not on Twitter



Don’t expect to read Ed Hochuli defend his calls online. He and the rest of the officials have a social networking ban imposed on them.

In rules just released—which is a reaction to number eight-five of the Bengals, Chad Ochocinco, and his claim that he would connect with fans via Twitter midgame—the NFL mainly placed restrictions on players and credentialed media for tweeting during games. However, a full-out ban was added for referees, even midweek.

The NFL’s muzzling of the officiating crew is not surprising, after Hochuli apologized for a blown call that could not be overturned during a Chargers–Broncos game last year. The call allowed the Broncos to keep possession and score the winning touchdown.

After the game, Hochuli was besieged by e-mails at the law firm where he serves as an attorney during the work week. Remarkably, Hochuli responded to his critics, regretting he made the bad call. The NFL stepped in immediately and ordered Hochuli to not respond to e-mails about his gridiron work.

As a result of the ban, we are missing a crucial element of the game: the perspective of the third team on the field. While we are seeking clarification on the rules, it would appear sites such as this are off limits as well, depriving the fans of unique insight.

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)