- Thearon W. Henderson/Getty
Philadelphia Eagles fans are known for being a passionate group, and that passion is on full display with an internet petition posted to Change.org on Thursday.
The petition, titled “Pete Morelli should be banned from refereeing Philadelphia Eagles games,” has already surpassed 60,00 signatures as of Tuesday morning.
Morelli, a longtime referee who was hired by the NFL as a full-time employee last month, is accused in the petition of being unfairly partisan. Its author, Will Philbrick of Little Rock, Arkansas, wrote that Morelli has a “clear and statistically obvious bias against the Philadelphia Eagles.”
The petition was posted shortly after last Thursday’s game between the Eagles and the Carolina Panthers, which Morelli worked. While the Eagles won the game 28-23, they did so in spite of their 126 penalty yards, compared to just one yard for the Panthers. It was the first time in NFL history that one team had over 120 penalty yards while the opposing team had less than 10, according to NBC Sports.
The Eagles disagreed with Morelli’s officiating on several of the game’s plays.
“We felt like a lot of those were ticky-tack, or weren’t good calls,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “For us, adversity is nothing new for us. We just kind of strap up and keep playing, and hunker down.”
It wasn’t the first time the Eagles felt victimized by Morelli’s officiating. In four games dating back to the 2013 season, the Eagles have racked up a whopping 396 yards in penalties. Their opponents in those games, meanwhile, combined for just 74 yards, creating a striking contrast.
It’s worth noting that all of those games were held in CenturyLink Field – in the last Eagles road game worked by Morelli, also against the Panthers, they came away with just 30 penalty yards, compared to 101 by Carolina. But to Philbrick and the petition’s supporters, four penalty-heavy games in a row is more than enough.
“Preventing Morelli from refereeing Eagles games will result in a more trustworthy and honest NFL,” Philbrick wrote. “This will benefit the entire league and keep all claims of conspiracy to a normal level.”
The Eagles will play again on Sunday night, when they’re slated to host the Washington Redskins. Fortunately for their disgruntled fans, Morelli won’t be in attendance.