BEREA — Officials in all sports have always been treated with contempt. After the NBA betting scandal, you can add suspicion.
Part of an NFL officiating crew visited Browns training camp last week, and the officials talked about getting caught up in the wake of the NBA’s problem.
“What’s going on in basketball is an unfortunate situation, and people will group us together,” supervisor of officials Johnny Grier said.
“We’re all tainted by this and it’s not a good thing for officials in any sport,” umpire Garth DeFelice said.
But the NFL officials said they’d be “dumbfounded” if a gambling scandal happened in their league.
They said the league does an extensive background check before they’re hired, has moved periodic background checks to every three years — with the possibility of going to every year — and uses a lot of ex-FBI security personnel.
Officials are also forbidden to visit a casino without league permission, and the NFL officiating supervisors review every play in every game every week.
Officials receive a progress report every four weeks, and a blatantly bad call brings a phone call from a supervisor looking for an explanation.
The NFL has changed a couple of rules for the 2007 season.
A player who spikes the ball after a play that isn’t a touchdown will be penalized 5 yards. The rule is to improve the league’s image and speed up the game. Spinning the ball on the ground is allowed.
Also, no penalty will be called if an offensive lineman is the first to unintentionally touch a forward pass.
With the Hall of Fame inductions Saturday night, ESPN.com listed 50 current players who it thinks will make it to Canton.
No Brown made the list, but outside linebacker Willie McGinest was “on the bubble.” His three Super Bowls with New England are in his favor, but just two Pro Bowl appearances in 13 seasons hurt his chances.
Quinn fell into the “odd men out” category. The rationale: The Browns’ history and karma are working against him.
Forget the draft?
Browns general manager Phil Savage said Friday he didn’t plan to talk to reporters again until a deal was done with rookie holdout Brady Quinn. He took a parting shot at Quinn’s representatives, who are trying to get a deal better than the 22nd pick would normally receive.
“The draft is set up so that … if you’re not going to rank the players one through 22, or one through 32 or get down into the third or fourth rounds, then there’s no reason to have a draft,” Savage said. “We should just have free agency for college players. The draft is the structure set up so there would be some order to it. Fifty years from now when they look into the history books of the Cleveland Browns’ all-time roster, it’s going to say Brady Quinn, 22nd pick of the first round.”
Tie the knots
Browns headquarters has a new prop this summer.
Hanging through a hole in the ceiling in the main entryway and in other rooms throughout the building are the ends of ropes with knots in them. The rope in the entryway is accompanied by the following laminated sign:
“This rope serves as a reminder that when trying to climb a mountain (or achieve a goal) it takes a consistent effort to get to the top.
“During our journey, we may slip at times, but if each of us will become a dependable ‘knot in the rope,’ we won’t fall very far before continuing our climb upward. So, each day, ask yourself, ‘Will I be a knot in the rope and contribute to the good of the Browns?’”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7136