Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The NFL has fired a referee for performance-based reasons.
Sources told NFL Network and FootballZebras.com that Hugo Cruz was relieved of his duties for performance reasons and for not meeting the standard over a sustained period of time. The NFL Referees Association plans to file a grievance on the down judge's behalf, regarding the dismissal.
Cruz has been with the NFL since 2015. He most recently missed a false start in the second quarter of the Los Angeles Chargers and Cleveland Browns game. Chargers tackle Russell Okung moved before the snap, dropping back to block on the play to block Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. He was not flagged and Philip Rivers ended up throwing a 29-yard touchdown pass during the sequence. The Chargers won 38-14.
"It was so obvious," Garrett told reporters. "In my mind, he has moved, nobody else has moved and the ball has not moved. It is kind of textbook. The flag should have been up. I moved forward because he moved. It is like I am on a string. If the ball beats him, I am going with the ball. If he moves before the ball, I am going with him. It is kind of like a signal that if he moves and I do not move, he might get the benefit of the doubt. If I move, as well, it is kind of like a, 'Hey, come on. You should see this.'"
"He did not. I do not understand how you not see it. That is his job to look down the line to see if people are jumping offside or false starting. I have to keep on finishing the play."
This is the first time in the Super Bowl era that the league has fired an official in the middle of the season, according to Football Zebras.
"The NFL has a troubling history of knee-jerk reactions with an eye on public relations, and clearly it has not learned from past mistakes," NFL Referees Association executive director Scott Green said in a statement. "The NFLRA will protect the collectively bargained rights of all officials and will challenge this reckless decision through the Grievance process."