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Henning Steps Up Official Debate

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Take it from one who knows. Officiating is not that difficult, according to Dan Henning, former basketball referee and Chargers coach.

“It’s easy,” Henning said Monday. “The No. 1 job you have is to control the game so that the game doesn’t get out of hand. If you make sharp, succinct decisions, that usually takes care of it.”

But Henning, who officiated high school basketball 25 years ago, alleged officials contributed to Sunday’s 20-17 Chargers loss to Kansas City because sharp, succinct decisions were not made.

Henning was mostly referring to a third-quarter call that took instant replay officials eight minutes, 10 seconds to make.

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Officials ruled on the field that John Friesz had thrown an incomplete pass. But instant replay officials eventually decided that Friesz had thrown a backward pass or a lateral and gave the ball to Kansas City at the Chargers one-yard line.

After viewing films of the play, Henning said he thought Friesz had thrown an incomplete pass. But Henning was more upset with the time it took replay officials to arrive at their decision.

NFL guidelines mandate that replay officials make a call within two minutes.

“Eight minutes is clear cut outside of the rules,” Henning said.

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“Instant replay should be the easiest part of the officiating game to handle. It should be like falling off a log. If I look at something for two minutes and it’s 100% conclusive, I can usually tell right away. If I have to run it back once or twice, I’m pretty sure that I’m not sure.”

But Henning said he is pretty sure that the eight-minute delay “changed the atmosphere of the game.”

“It changed the focus and attention of both teams,” he said. “It gave Kansas City reason to rise.”

But as disgusted as he was with the instant replay, Henning said he is still a proponent of it.

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“I voted for it, I’d vote for it again,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going away.”

After studying films of the Chargers’ team-record 16 penalties Sunday--two were declined--Henning said nine of the calls were legitimate.

During post-game interviews, Henning said “the game was disgracefully officiated.” Will he be fined for his comments?

“Why would I be reprimanded for my remarks?” he asked.

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Receiver Kitrick Taylor hurt his his knee again and left the game with two minutes remaining. “I didn’t want to be in there and not be able go full out,” he said.

Taylor had his knee drained Monday and expects to play Sunday. He said the knee will not require surgery because there is no cartilage or ligament damage.

Cornerback Gill Byrd played 72 of 74 plays with a sore ankle.

“Every step of the way was painful,” Byrd said. “I was compensating. I know if my ankle wasn’t hurt, I would have intercepted that ball I knocked down. I just couldn’t push off my foot.”

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Linebackers Billy Ray Smith and Henry Rolling also are nursing ankle injuries, but Henning said he expects them to play Sunday against Miami at Jack Murphy Stadium.

Guard Mike Zandofsky broke his hand, but Henning said he will probably be able to play with a cast.

Secondary Coach Jim Mora said he continues to be impressed with free safety Darren Carrington.

“He played 13 plays Sunday and made three big plays,” Mora said.

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Carrington got his second interception, broke up a pass and made a tackle on third down that kept Kansas City from getting a first down.

“He’s proven that he can play safety,” Mora said. “He’s got the athletic ability to be a starter.”


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