In a move that could further escalate tensions between NFL teams and refs, the NFL on Thursday announced that a pair of referees had been placed on administrative leave for three games due to an ongoing disagreement with the league over officiating.
The NFL announced that the teams of Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots were the subject of a dispute over officiated hits to Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker in the fourth quarter of a 31-23 win over the Ravens on Sunday, with the Ravens later claiming that the officials made contact with Welker as he was getting up to return a punt.
A source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN that the Ravens and Patriots officials were in a disagreement over whether Welker was on the ground when he was hit.
That led to the officials getting up and taking off to run toward Welker, who was down on the field.
The source said that the incident escalated when the officials approached Welker with their arms around his neck and threw a couple of punches.
The source added that the NFL will have the two teams discuss the matter internally.
The Patriots later announced that they have placed an official on administrative left of absence for the second time this season, with defensive coordinator Bill Belichick also being placed on leave for a week due to the incident.
The Ravens later apologized for the incident and said it was made up by officials and not the refs.
The league is set to host a news conference at noon ET (9 a.m.
PT) to address the situation.