Former NFL official Jim Daopoulos was surprised as anyone when he saw Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the Buffalo Bills’ 26-16 victory Sunday.
Daopoulos, who spent 11 years as an on-field official and 12 as a supervisor and now works for ESPN, told The News on Monday that the call was an “overreaction.”
Miller was penalized for sticking out a hand to help up Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor and then pulling it away. It was right in front of referee Carl Cheffers.
The 15-yard penalty gave the Bills a new set of downs from the 31. They went on to score a field goal that put them ahead by 10 points with 3:18 to play.
“I understood the call, but I was amazed that Carl Cheffers made that call,” Daopoulos said. “I could see if the players were in each other’s faces, but it seems they know each other and it was a joking type of thing.
“It wasn’t a very sportsmanship-type thing that Von did, but I didn’t think there was any malice. I really don’t think that should have been flagged. There’s so much that goes on out on the field and guys get on each other now and then, but this seemed to be a couple of buddies … It looks bad from a professionalism standpoint, but I don’t think it warranted a 15-yard penalty.”
Given the emotion of the day, Cheffers could have made the call in order to keep the final minutes under control in a close game.
“That could be a thought process, but honestly, I don’t think that’s the case here,” Daopoulos said. “You see so often during a game that guys are talking and gesturing. This was basically isolated right there and TV picks it up.”
Given that one of the referee’s jobs is to make sure there is not a late hit on the QB, the play happened feet from where Cheffers was standing.
“He’s there protecting the quarterback so I understood what he was doing,” Daopoulos said. “But I don’t agree with the way he handled it.”