Scouting the Zebras..Steelers @ Broncos
Ron Winter, most of his crew and two officials from Ed Hochuli’s crew will be in charge Sunday afternoon when the Steelers travel to Denver for the second half of the AFC Wildcard series. For any sports official, getting to call a post-season game is the highlight of an officiating career. There are 17 officiating crews in the NFL and the NFL evaluators rank each crew throughout each season. The crews with the highest ratings draw the playoff games.
(Unfortunately over the regular season, officials have injected themselves into Steelers’ games and across the NFL at a disproportional and often inconsistent rate. Thus, a pre-game scouting report officiating crews will be conducted. Normally, referees do not like to be seen. A measure of a good crew is when the final second ticks off the clock in the 4th quarter, nobody remembers that they where even there.)
Referee: 14 – Ron Winter, Michigan State University
Umpire: 49 – Rich Hall (from Ed Hochuli’s crew), University of Arizona
Head Linesman: 52 – Julian Mapp, Grambling University
Line Judge: 108 – Gary Arthur, Wright State University
Field Judge: 88 – Scott Steenson, North Texas University
Side Judge: 62 – Ronald Tolbert (from Ed Hochuli’s crew), Michigan State University
Back Judge: 83 – Richard Reels, Chicago State University
Ron Winter is an experienced NFL official with 17 seasons under his belt. He entered the NFL as a line judge in 1995 and advanced to Referee (White Hat) in 1998. Winter also served as an official for several years at the NCAA level. At the NCAA level, Winter was associated with the Big 10 Conference and officiated seven bowl games including the Rose Bowl and two Orange Bowl National Championship games.
Winter hails from Michigan and is a professor at Western Michigan University.
Statistics (as of 12/24/2011):
The table below breaks down calls made by Winter and his crew during the 2011 season and then shows his ranking amongst other NFL officials:
|Penalty Type||Ron Winter's Calls||NFL Maximum||Winter's Rank Among Other Officials|
|Delay of game||16||16||1|
|Neutral zone infraction||10||11||2|
|Defensive pass interference||12||22||10|
|Illegal block above the waist||5||12||10|
|Illegal use of hands||4||9||11|
|Defensive 12 men on field||1||7||12|
|Offensive pass interference||2||10||14|
|Roughing the passer||2||12||15|
Of note, Winter’s crews call delay of game penalties often. They also appear strict on unnecessary roughness. Unfortunately for Roethlisberger and his ankle, I wouldn’t expect too many roughing the passer flags unless it is blatant. Receivers should favor Winter since his crew calls offensive pass interference at a low rate. The secondary should also favor Winter since he has a low rate of calling illegal contact and is in the bottom half when calling defensive pass interference. Winter’s crew is fairly strict concerning offensive holding which could favor James Harrison, who is notoriously held when rushing.
Ron Winter and Controversy:
Our own Bradshaw2Ben and www.nopunintented.com have ranked Winter as the worst official in the NFL. Winter also has the honor of a Facebook page dedicated to his firing.
Winter is best known for a 2002 playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Football Giants. Winter’s crew forgot that a Giant lineman was declared eligible during a game winning field goal attempt. During the botched play, guard Rich Suebert was pulled down by Chike Okeafor while going out to receive a pass which should have been offensive pass interference. Instead the Giants were flagged for an ineligible lineman down field and the game ended. This should have created off-setting fouls and a replay of the down. Instead, the game ended with the NFL later issuing an apology to the New York Giants. Ex-commissioner Paul Tagliabue, described the situation as “the most disappointing officiating blunder he’d seen in his years as NFL commissioner.” In the same game, Winter also ejected Giant’s safety Shaun Williams for punching a San Fran player.
In 2011, Winter made the news during a Bengals vs. Ravens game. During an Ravens’ interception, Winter was caught in a pile and buried. He was shaken up but was able to continue the game.