September 16, 2008
According to NFL supervisor of officials Mike Pereira, Ed Hochuli is "devastated" at what went down in Denver on Sunday. If you missed it, Hochuli made an inexplicable mental gaffe--I won't call it a "blown call" or "missed call" because I think it goes a little beyond that--that almost directly cost the Chargers a loss against the Broncos.
No one, it appears, is taking the mistake and its ramifications harder than Hochuli.
"He's devastated," said Mike Pereira, the NFL's supervisor of officials. "... I was talking to Ed within 10 minutes after the game was over, and he was sick. He's still sick (yesterday).
"Everybody works so hard and wants to be perfect in a game you're not likely to ever be perfect. I've talked to him three times. He's really struggling with the fact he made such a bad call."
Hochuli's also manning up and taking his e-mail lumps. His e-mail address isn't hard to find with a simple Yahoo! search, and he's been bombarded with hate mail. And still, he's replying to everyone. Someone relayed the following reply from Hochuli to a message board at the San Diego Union Tribute.
I'm getting hundreds of emails – hate mail – but I'm responding to it all. People deserve a response.
You can rest assured that nothing anyone can say can make me feel worse than I already feel about my mistake on the fumble play. You have no idea ...
Affecting the outcome of a game is a devastating feeling. Officials strive for perfection – I failed miserably. Although it does no good to say it, I am very, very sorry.
No one was more upset about the call than me, I promise you. I was driving to a friend's house after the game, and had to stop at a local convenience store so I could throw a child-like fit and kick inanimate objects. I said things about Ed Hochuli in the hours after the loss that could've gotten me arrested. Eventually, my grief took the form of a letter from Ed's dog.
But knowing now that Hochuli feels so bad about it, it sort of takes some of the venom out of me. It's hard to hate a guy who knows he screwed up and feels bad about it.
It's just so hard to understand why he blew that whistle. A ball went flying backwards out of the quarterback's hand. In what way would that lead anyone to believe that a play should be blown dead? Why would it even occur to him to blow the whistle?
It's not like Hochuli missed a hold, or botched a pass interference call. I rarely complain about mistakes like that. There are so many shades of gray on every play, and there's so much to see. Judgment calls will be blown, and that, I've learned to live with.
This was different, though. Hochuli wasn't making a judgment. There's no way he could look at what Jay Cutler did from any angle and conclude that he threw a forward pass, any more than you could watch Ryan Seacrest wax his chest and then conclude that mashed potatoes are delicious. It just couldn't happen.
Anyway, the man feels bad about it, he's been punished, and I think I can start to let it go now. Hopefully someday, I'll once again be able to look at Ed Hochuli and see a fine official with great pecs, instead of the guy who handed Denver a win.
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