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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Forgive Ed Hochuli

Yes, veteran NFL official Ed Hochuli made a big mistake in Sunday's Broncos-Chargers game, and, yes, it came late in the game and probably cost the Chargers the game (of course, had the Chargers' defense played better in the earlier parts of the game, Hochuli's call wouldn't have affected the outcome). You can read about the mistake here.

But that's it. Hochuli made a mistake, plain and simple, but it's over. People make mistakes all the time, and big ones at times, too. That's what makes people human and not robots, and what makes people special is their ability to learn from mistakes, pick themselves up, move past them and improve. If you believe you've been hurt by a mistake, you certainly have a beef, and, unfortunately, sometimes they can't be undone the same way you can't put toothpaste back into the tube. Ed Hochuli can't take back his inadvertent whistle, and the Chargers cannot win that game.

And that makes the hurt worse, for Hochuli, whose error is very public, for the Chargers, who have a loss, and for their fans, who, like fans of many NFL teams, see their emotions go up and down with their squad's won-loss record. But that doesn't make the mistake unforgivable, and that doesn't make Hochuli a bad referee.

Hochuli will be held accountable by NFL officials, as has been publicly stated. He has apologized publicly for his error, which was unintentional. He feels worse than anyone about what happened, and, I'm sure, wonders whether his 15+ years of outstanding work gets tossed out the window because of this one misstep.

It shouldn't at all. Ed Hochuli is an outstanding NFL official, perhaps the most trusted in the game. He has done and will continue to do great work. Most of us know that, so all of us should forgive him, put it in the rear-view mirror, and move on. It's that simple.

Some will remain angry, and some will be self-righteous. But show me someone in any profession who is perfect, and I'll pick that demonstration apart. Show me someone who hasn't made any mistakes, and I'll show you someone who hasn't accomplished much. Show me someone who is a harsh critic of people who make mistakes, and I'll show you someone who is holding others to standards that he himself cannot meet.

Remember, Ed Hochul is an outstanding NFL official, and his career proves this statement. His accomplishments far outstrip this error, and the harsh critics need to get over this and move on. It's an unfortunate episode for all involved, but we shouldn't throw a good official under the bus because of it.

Let it rest.

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