It is becoming a weekly pattern with the Cleveland Browns and the NFL.
The Browns play on Sunday, the officials miss a blatant call that would favor the Browns, and word eventually leaks out during the week that the league office knows the call was wrong.
Yet nothing ever changes.
Such is the case again this week as unnamed source “familiar with the league’s thinking” said that the NFL realizes Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead’s helmet-to-helmet hit on quarterback Baker Mayfield should have been a penalty, according to ESPN’s Pat McManamon.
Not only do the Browns and their fans have to deal with another blown call, but also with the absurdity of referee Shawn Hochuli’s explanation that there was no penalty because runners are “allowed to be hit in the head.”
The calls keep happening and the league keeps apologizing, and Browns players have obviously grown tired of it all.
Last Friday it was defensive end Myles Garrett who voiced his displeasure over the way the refs treat the Browns, and on Tuesday it was wide receiver Jarvis Landry’s turn to speak up for his teammates, according to Mary Kay Cabot at cleveland.com:
“Tom Brady gets that call. Aaron Rodgers gets that call. Any other quarterback gets that call. It’s tough to beat a team and feel like you’re playing against another team as well (the officials). It’s a problem. It’s really a problem.
“We’re the most penalized team in the NFL. Every week it’s 12-15 penalties. Nobody listens. It’s not to attack the referees, but somebody should be taking a look at this stuff. We get apologies, but it’s game-changing plays. People’s jobs, lives are at stake. I don’t understand why it’s not a bigger issue.’’
Head coach Hue Jackson would seem to be a in position to strongly advocate for the safety of his players and for more equitable treatment from the referees, but continues to take a passive approach to the situation, as he explained on Monday when asked about the Mayfield hit, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
“Trust me, as I have said before, we get on the phones. We do [talk] quite a bit here with the league office with (Senior Vice President of Officiating) Al Riveron, who is the head of the officials. We have had quite a few conversations. That was disappointing. That is all that I can say.”
It may come off as whining, especially coming from a team that is 2-4-1 on the season and just 3-35-1 since the start of the 2016 season, but that doesn’t make Landry’s comments any less true, or Jackson’s lack of fire any more palatable.
Given the way this season has gone, it also means that the Browns should not expect anything different from the officials or league office the rest of the way.