Wednesday, January 26

An open letter to all professional football players.

By Robert O'Hanlon
NFL Field Judge #29

Dear Professional Football Players —

I am addressing you collectively, since I believe this is the best way for me to communicate a point I have stressed to many of you individually on the field of play.

A point you have done little to consider, judging by this weekend's round of playoff games.

During a fumble, I'm the guy who gets to point in the direction of recovering team.

Not you. Me. That's part of my job. Not yours.

I've said this time and time again, but you still choose to ignore me.

Your premature gesticulations and wild, inartful pointing really don't affect the outcome of my decision. I have a job to do, a relatively simple job — determine who has possession of the football at the bottom of a pile of your sweaty humanity.

Believe you me, it's certainly not my favorite part of the job. I'd rather rule on pass interference and illegal blocks. But while some of you are jabbing opposing eyeballs and grabbing opposing taints, I'm trying to clear a path to the pigskin. I'd really appreciate it if your teammates away from the play would stop with their childish arm-waving and finger-pointing. Frankly, you're grown men and such mannerisms should be beneath you.

I know you're excited. Turnovers can be exciting. In a blink of the eye, they can change the direction, and ultimately, the outcome, of a game.

But please let me do my job, and I will let you do yours.