'I don't know that I'll ever get over it': Saints coach Sean Payton laments state of NFL officiating

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New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton criticized NFL officiating after a string of controversial calls have significantly impacted games, including some he was involved in.

"I hate getting to the point where it's expected and you're numb," Payton said Thursday on "The Dan Patrick Show." "Those kind of things can't happen. I look at that more from an overall leadership perspective and training perspective – those problems start at the top, not at the individual crews."

The Saints lost their Week 10 game against the Tennessee Titans, 23-21, in part because of a roughing-the-passer penalty that was called late in the second quarter against linebacker Kaden Elliss. On the play, which came from the Titans' 8-yard line with two minutes left to play, Elliss rushed Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill's and extended his arms to shove Tannehill at the top of his back.

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Tannehill was hit as he threw and the pass was intercepted in the end zone by Saints safety Marcus Williams. Officials, however, called Elliss for roughing the passer, nullifying the pick. Tannehill would go on to score three plays later on a 1-yard sneak.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton challenges an official in the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton challenges an official in the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

"This one this past weekend, I don't know that I'll ever get over it," Payton said. "Just the way the game unfolded, how we wanted to play it and then to have some of the things take place that took place, it's tough. It's tough cause you dive into a week with your total preparation and I think we just see it in a lot of ways I think we see it each week with the officiating. That's the hardest thing to get past, when they're not up to speed, maybe. It happened to the Bears a week and a half ago."

Payton was referring to a 29-27 Chicago Bears loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that sparked controversy with a taunting penalty called late in the game against Bears linebacker — and former Steeler — Cassius Marsh. The penalty, though, came well after Marsh's celebration and only after referee Tony Corrente and Marsh bumped into each other.

Payton, as a handful of other coaches have in the past, advocated for NFL officials to be hired on a full-time basis.

"Look, I know there are a number of people in our profession who think that these people should be full-time," Payton continued. "They should be coming back Monday in centralized locations. How are 17 crews going to be on the same page when there's a conference call or a Zoom call?"

Complicating this matter further is the infusion of revenue through states' continued legalization of sports gambling. And because significant calls not only impact games but also alter the winners against point spreads, significant money is potentially at stake when officials make mistakes.

"We have to," Payton said when asked about sending a message of confidence to the sports bettors. "We have to improve. We have to. Look, everyone watching it and involved with it and participating in it deserves better."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Saints' Sean Payton rips NFL officiating: 'Problems start at the top'