On phantom out of bounds call, Amari Cooper thought official was blowing whistle for some other reason

Sunday’s game between the Titans and the Browns included a bizarre call by an official who was looking right at the feet of Cleveland receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper made the catch and stayed in bounds. The official inexplicably ruled that Cooper had stepped out of bounds.

“Honestly, my first reaction was he must have been blowing the whistle for something else because I knew it wasn’t out, so I thought maybe there was some other like flag on the play,” Cooper told PFT by phone after the 27-3 win over the Titans. “But when he was blowing it and calling it dead as I was like kind of running back to the huddle, I was like, ‘What happened? Like, does the play even count?’ It was very confusing. I don’t know. It’s just one of those plays that the refs missed.”

Cooper did what he had to do. He moved on.

“You just play the next play,” he said. “It happens, you know. Refs are humans. They’re not robots. They’re not gonna get every call right, so just play the next play.”

They indeed won’t get every play right. But the mistake fuels an argument in favor of full-time officials, who are repeatedly trained and who constantly practice so that such mistakes aren’t made.

It’s something the league doesn’t want to do, either because the NFL is too cheap or because the NFL isn’t inclined to put in the effort to do it, or both.