ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – OK, San Diego Chargers fans, take a deep breath before you read this.
NFL referee Ed Hochuli is spending a few days in Denver with some other officials working the Broncos practices and did a presentation to the media on rules changes for the upcoming season.
All of that is normal around the NFL, where officials are often brought in to work with the teams, both keeping the officials and players in practice. However, Hochuli's presence in Denver probably won't make any Chargers fans happy, particularly the hardcore, conspiracy-believing fans out there.
It was Hochuli who made an errant call at the end of Denver's win over San Diego in the second week of the season. Hochuli ruled that a fumble by Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler(notes) was actually an incomplete pass. That took the ball away from San Diego, which recovered the fumble, and allowed the Broncos to score and then win the game on a two-point conversion.
That also left the Chargers at 0-2 and had San Diego fans fuming at Hochuli, who subsequently and profusely apologized.
This offseason, the league amended the rule on such plays so that such a play can be reviewed and called a fumble. In fact, that play was on the videotape that Hochuli used for his demonstration on rules changes.
As the play was shown from several angles, Hochuli said jokingly, "I'm sure no one has any questions about that one."
In addition to that rule change, the league altered the rules on how teams kicking off can align players, limited kickoff return teams to only two players in the blocking wedge, limited the way players attempting to tackle the quarterback can go after him once they have fallen and are grabbling for the quarterback's legs, and limited hits to the neck and head on blindside blocks and hits on defenseless receivers.