I can’t leave it alone. I just can’t. It’s Wednesday morning and the game was last Sunday. Usually, that’s plenty of time to get over a regular season NFL game. We Chargers fans are especially good at it, what with all that crap-tastic-ness in our team’s history. We’re used to moving on from disappointment. Besides, most of us live in San Diego, so it’s not like we’re short on things to make us happy.
Phillips and I, however, don’t currently live in Southern California, so we have a thing or two in common with Ed Hochuli at the moment. We’re all respected members of our professions, we’re all incredibly ripped, and we’re all still distraught over the screw-job that happened in Denver last Sunday. Only Mr. Hochuli esq. has gotten hate mail though. Well, hate mail related to the game, anyway.
But as I was reading this on The Blogosphere’s World Wide Leader, I actually felt bad for Ed Hochuli. The faceless, corporate entity that is the real NFL is slapping him down for his mistake in the Chargers game, which is as it should be. The guy deserves a “downgrade,” whatever the hell that is. He made a mistake and he should pay for it. By giving each Charger fan $5 if possible. Five bucks would sure make me feel better. Yet why the pity? Aren’t we taught to “kill the umpire”?
Hochuli is being punished, though that may be too strong a word for what’s happening to him, because he did his job correctly. Yes, he made a mistake in blowing his whistle when he did. It was an atrocious call, especially given Jay Cutler’s non-clutch leanings in situations just like that. But Hochuli was just making the best call he could from his point of view on the field. He also interpreted the rule correctly in light of his bad whistle. He blew the whistle early so Denver got the ball where the fumble landed. It’s the rule that sucks, people! One bad call makes Ed Hochuli a human being. One bad rule means the league isn’t paying very close attention.
Bad shit happens at people’s jobs all the time. We all make mistakes. We’re all human. To make Ed Hochuli the sacrificial lamb for this mistake when it’s the NFL’s rule that’s to blame is absolutely insane. He was just doing his job and you would hope more people do their jobs as well as he has done his for the past 19 years. Well, being a referree isn’t actually Mr. Hochuli’s job since the NFL still doesn’t believe it needs full-time officiating because, you know, it’s not like anyone notices when the refs blow a call.
This would be easier if we could put a face on the genius that came up with the rule Ed Hochuli interpreted correctly on Sunday. Just like it would be easier to draw and quarter all the faceless bean counters and suits that are causing so many of America’s major financial institutions to self-destruct. Lehman Bros., Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac could really use an Ed Hochuli about now. Instead, we don’t know who is screwing us over, we just know THAT we’re getting screwed over and there really isn’t anything to do about it.
So maybe people fire off an email to their congressman or send some hate mail to Ed Hochuli’s other job at his law firm but it doesn’t change the following facts: 1) None of this, NONE of it, changes that the Chargers lost on Sunday and played really freaking badly in the process. 2) The league says it will review the rule itself in February, not mid-season so crap like this doesn’t happen again. And 3) We’re getting distracted with this Ed Hochuli nonsense when the Chargers still have 14 games to play.
So this is my call for San Diego fan to file this disaster away with all the other horrible stuff that’s happened to the Chargers over the years like every decision made by Bobby Beathard after the Super Bowl loss to the 49ers, the Mike Riley Era, Ryan Leaf, and firing Marty/Hiring Norv. It’s all bad stuff, but we can move on because we have before. Plus, our team doesn’t suck this time.
There are WAY bigger issues out there, and I don’t mean just ones, like the banking crisis, that are outside the sports universe and are really, actually important. I mean awful stuff like Norv Turner is still our head coach, LT is hurt, and the defense couldn’t stop Girl Scouts from selling cookies at this point. THOSE are issues. Ed Hochuli is just a guy in a striped shirt.