Two days after former NBA referee Tim Donaghy was sent away for 15 months for his association with gamblers in putting the fix on basketball games, Ed Hochuli, an NFL referee for 19 years, said he doesn't see it being a problem in his sport.
Hochuli said too many checks are in place in the NFL, including background checks given to officials every two years that include a check of financial information. NFL officials are forbidden from going to cities where there are casinos during the season without permission from the league office. Perception, Hochuli, said is primary in maintaining integrity. But certainly some it was shattered for all sports by the Donaghy case.
"I would imagine that for a lot of people it definitely caused pause for concern,'' Hochuli said. "All officials in any sport I know were upset by that, the integrity issue. We're all about integrity. It's the most important thing we have to maintain because people have to trust that you're calling a fair game. Sort of clouded us all.
"Now I can't comment on other sports, but I can tell you in the NFL that I just can't imagine that sort of thing happening, not just because of the integrity but because of the scrutiny we are under. Instant replay. The fact that you can fix mistakes through instant replay is big. Because if there is somebody that was doing that, you have the opportunity to fix it. The grading system that we've got, because we have one game a week the league is able to grade with a tremendous amount of scrutiny the officials on every play. And if an official was making mistakes, he'd be fired. We have officials who are let go every year because of grades. And so that is another significant check on that sort of thing."