"Maybe those guys gotta study the rulebook and figure it out. We obviously knew what we were doing and we made some pretty important plays. It was a real good weapon for us." Those are the words of Tom Brady after yet another New England playoff win, a 35-31 much-too-close-for-comfort victory over upset-minded Baltimore. The Patriots, according to Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh, used "deception" at the line of scrimmage to confuse the officials into not allowing his team to substitute.
Unlike every other professional sport in North America, pro football does not provide full-time employment to its officials. As a result, it does not hold referees to the same standard of excellence found in other sports. For example, even if an official has a pattern of making inaccurate calls in game after game, he still won't be demoted. In fact, he can actually be promoted to a postseason opportunity because there is no threat of unemployment. In other words: A player can make one poor play and get cut, but a referee can make the same mistake over and over and be rewarded.