NFL fires referee who missed key call in Browns game

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 03: Head coach Mike Mularkey of the Tennessee Titans talks with head linesman Hugo Cruz #94 against the Houston Texans during the second half at Nissan Stadium on December 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

For the first time in the Super Bowl era, the NFL has fired a referee in the middle of the season. Hugo Cruz, a down judge, was fired for performance-related reasons, according to Football Zebras.

The league let go of back judge Hugo Cruz for failing to maintain “avery high level of performance over a sustained period,” according to Football Zebras.

Chavez missed an obvious false start penalty in a Week 6 game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Cleveland Browns which resulted in a touchdown pass for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

Cruz is in his fourth season as an NFL official.

The NFL Referees Association said it would challenge the firing.

There has been a wave of criticism of officiating this season by team executives, coaches, players and the media. Several times, teams have been told by the league that a call was missed, although that has happened in past years, too.

The league does hand out fines to players for egregious hits, even when they have not been penalized in a game.

In all, the NFL has 121 officials and 17 officiating crews. Because there are extra officials not working each week, filling Cruz’s spot shouldn’t be an issue.