ALAMEDA -- I've already been out for the brief media availablity and there's nothing to report yet. So l'll have some fun with reader questions.
Surprise. The Raiders get out of line and who is to blame? The officials.
Hereís a sampling of what Iíve heard from fans since last Sunday in Jacksonville following Warren Sappís ejection and his $75,000 fine and Derrick Burgessí $25,000 fine from the league:
Question: Wake-up. Tell it like is...The officials screwed-up and then compounded their error by flagging Sapp and Burgess. It's simple, these officials are now trained to be the judge, jury and executioner on the field. If any players upstage them, they'll flag'em right or wrong. (SEE: Ravens-Pats) It's a new world order in the NFL and you better get with it. An official making a call for a team without hearing from the coach or a team captain is unheard-of!!! Who's fault is JASON!!! Who's to blame JASON !!! Yes I'm yelling at you because you are a complete idiot.
Tim, Salt Lake City
Answer: Sure, calling me an idiot and typing my name in all caps solves everything. I really feel like youíve yelled at me.
And by the way, youíre wrong. Itís not unusual for an official to assume a team would accept or decline a penalty. Is it right? No. But youíre missing the point. The officials corrected the situation. then the flags came.
Also, if Sapp would have left the field when his coach sent in a player to replace him, he wouldnít have been flagged three times.
Just because there was a mistake made doesnít give players the right to excessively go after the official.
But I bet itís also the refsí fault the Raiders trailed 28-3 at that point.
I must be an idiot not to see that.
Question: The league has now spoken on Warren Sapp and his alleged transgressions, but I still have not seen an explanation on why the officials took it upon themselves to decline the penalty without consulting the Raiders. Their actions are what generated the series of events.
Answer: As I mentioned before, itís not uncommon for an official to decline a penalty on fourth down and then have a captain or coach correct them.
The assumption is wrong, but it does happen.
Question: When is the league going to hold the refs accountable? You never hear anything about the league punishing a ref. Are they held unaccountable for their actions? There is no denying that the Raiders get screwed with calls. I am very surprised that a player on the brink of getting cut or retirement donít take one of those guys out for good!
Brian, Rawlins, Wyo.
Answer: Referees are held accountable and can be punished for poor performance.
How that works isnít always clear. Teams do have the right to request an official they have a problem with not work their game, too.
And no player with sense would take out a ref because of one word: lawsuit.
Just in case you were wondering, the ref that grabbed Packers linebacker Nick Barnett was fined a game check according to ESPN.
And of course, one of my favorite questions that I get in some form every week:
Question: Why do you wear that stupid frown expression on your mug?
John Powell, Kabul, Afghanistan
Answer: Because I was told to.
But why do you have to call my expression stupid? That hurts. The photographer worked really hard to get me to look like that.
So I guess the first mission this offseason is to get a new picture up there.