GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers remains steadfastly in support of the NFL’s regular officials – even when the Green Bay Packers quarterback believes they’ve botched more than a few calls against his defensive teammates.
Rodgers said Tuesday on his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN and ESPNWisconsin.com that referee Carl Cheffers’ was the latest group of officials to thank him for standing up for them on his show even before the Packers’ controversial replacement referee-fueled loss at Seattle on Sept. 24. The NFL and NFL Referees Association ended the lockout two days after that game.
“I’ve heard it from every crew,” said Rodgers, who was caught by NFL Films’ microphones before the Sept. 30 game against New Orleans getting a thank-you from referee Jeff Triplette and his officials. “You get to know these guys; I’ve played probably close to 80 starts now in the NFL, counting preseason. You get to know these guys and their stories and where they’re from. I enjoy the relationships with them and you get to know kind of how everybody’s style. Some guys enjoy talking with you; some guys will joke with you during TV timeouts. Some guys are all business; some guys start the clock quicker than other guys. Some guys you can kind of have a conversation during the game about different things that may or may not help you if a play happens like that again, or tell them to look at something and they respond positively, or if you kind of have to jump them a little bit to get their attention.
“That all being said, it’s great having those guys back. It’s frustrating that we kind of had to be the proverbial straw the broke the camel’s back (with the loss at Seattle). And it was a big ol’ honking camel whose back got broken, but we’re glad to have those guys back and they’re doing a really good job.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers was adamant that the 15-yard personal foul call on cornerback Davon House was a blown call by Cheffers’ crew. House was whistled for hitting a defenseless receiver after breaking up a pass to Justin Blackmon and Blackmon’s helmet popped off at the end of the play. Rodgers pointed out a few other calls that have gone against the Packers, including linebacker Nick Perry’s hard hit on Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck that erased a Luck fumble, and Erik Walden’s questionable roughing-the-passer penalty as called by the replacement officials at Seattle, wiping out an interception.
“I actually had a conversation with the white cap (Cheffers) on the field about the House hit,” said Rodgers, who also thought he should’ve gotten the benefit of the infamous Tuck Rule on his lost fumble. “I appreciated his candor at the time. It wasn’t his call, so he was asking what I thought about it. I said, ‘It didn’t look like it was a hit to the head.’ It helps when you have the replay; I prefaced that by saying after I looked at the replay. In real time, it looked like a collision and I think it was Blackmon and his helmet came off. So that was a more difficult play. The Nick Perry one, I think just because of the vicious nature. Andrew’s head kind of whipped back and it looked like it had to be a helmet to helmet although it was a very clean hit. The Walden play was a terrible call. I mean, that didn’t look like anything.
“But I’m going to give the refs the benefit of the doubt. Like a told Carl and his crew this weekend; it’s great to have them back. It’s no surprise that they’ve been staying out of the way and letting the games play out without any major incident. You don’t miss a good thing until it’s gone, often. And we as a group of NFL players and the fans obviously have noticed a major difference having these guys back. So it’s great having them back. I give them the benefit of the doubt; they’re trying to make player safety the No. 1 point of emphasis. But in that situation, it was obviously after the replay not the correct call.”
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