The NFL has found no evidence of bias in Pete Morelli's officiating crew toward the Philadelphia Eagles, a league spokesperson confirmed to ESPN, a signal that they will be allowed to work Eagles games moving forward.

The Eagles were penalized 10 times for 126 yards in a win over Carolina on Oct. 12, while the Panthers were called for just one penalty, resulting in 1 yard lost. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first game in NFL history in which one team had at least 120 penalty yards and its opponent had fewer than 10 penalty yards.

The discrepancy led to criticism of Morelli and his crew and prompted one Eagles fan to start an online petition calling for Morelli to be banned from working future Eagles games, citing bias by his crew in the past four Eagles games those referees have officiated. The penalty disparity is 40-8 in favor of the opposition in the past four games Morelli's group has officiated.

The NFL Referees Association released a statement on Thursday denouncing "recent media reports alleging bias in NFL officiating." The NFLRA's statement didn't identify the reports that prompted the statement but acknowledged to ESPN that it was, in part, a response to commentary in Philadelphia related to the Panthers game.

"Claims like these demonstrate a fundamental lack of knowledge about NFL officiating," NFLRA executive director Scott Green said in the statement. "NFL officials are graded on every call made in every game. Missing a single one can hurt his or her ranking and may be the difference between working in the postseason or not."


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AP Photo/Matt RourkeTorrey Smith (right) took a turn at bat and hit it out of the park after scoring a touchdown against the Cardinals in Week 5.

We knew we were in for a treat when celebration restrictions that once contributed to the NFL's "No Fun League" moniker were softened this offseason.

Through six weeks, players haven't disappointed, showing their creativity and embracing group celebrations, which haven't been allowed for the better part of this millennium.

We've seen teammates pantomiming various games and sports, from "Duck, Duck, Goose" and jumping rope to basketball, baseball and even bobsledding. Group performances haven't been limited to touchdowns either, with the Titans bowing down to Wesley Woodyard after a fourth-down stop on Monday night.


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Pete MorelliAP Photo/Charles KrupaAn online petition is calling for Pete Morelli to be banned from officiating Eagles games.

The NFL Referees Association released a statement Thursday denouncing "recent media reports alleging bias in NFL officiating."

The NFLRA's statement didn't identify the reports that prompted the statement, but acknowledged to ESPN that the statement was in part a response to commentary in Philadelphia after the Philadelphia Eagles' 28-23 victory over the Carolina Panthers last Thursday night. 

Even though they were victorious, the Eagles were penalized 10 times for 126 yards while the Panthers were called for just one penalty, resulting in 1 yard lost. The discrepancy led to criticism of referee Pete Morelli and his crew and prompted one Eagles fan to start an online petition calling for Morelli to be banned from officiating future Eagles games, citing bias by Morelli's crew in the past four Eagles games those referees have officiated. 

The fan, Will Philbrick, wrote that "preventing Morelli from refereeing Eagles games will result in a more trustworthy and honest NFL."  As of Thursday morning, the petition had more than 71,000 signatures.  


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PHILADELPHIA -- The Eagles appear close to getting a key defender back in the lineup. Cornerback Ronald Darby is going to practice this week for the first time since dislocating his ankle in the season opener against the Washington Redskins.

"I can't commit at this time that he is going to be ready [for Monday's game vs. Washington], but we're going to get him some reps this week and then see where he's at," coach Doug Pederson said. "But he's doing extremely well."

Desperate for corner help, the Eagles traded receiver Jordan Matthews and a third-round pick to Buffalo before the start of the season for Darby, a blazing fast corner who was runner-up for Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015. He was projected to be the Eagles' No. 1 corner before a gruesome injury Week 1 along the sideline. An MRI revealed less damage than anticipated, and he was given a recovery time of four to six weeks.

Earlier this season, Pederson mentioned the rematch against Washington as a target return date.

"Obviously with the time off, there's a lot of things involved [when gauging whether he's ready to play]," Pederson said. "Conditioning, No. 1, is probably the most important thing. How sore does he get during the week? And by no means do I want to rush him back and just say, 'Hey, we said this is the week' or whatever, 'let's go play.' There are a lot of factors that have to be sort of right. The stars have to align in order for him to be ready to go."

The Eagles' defense has found a way to succeed despite the loss of Darby. The front four are generating good pressure for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, while a corner group that includes Jalen Mills


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Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesRedskins running back Chris Thompson says Eagles fans are "some of the meanest fans I've ever experienced."

Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson once prayed in the end zone before a game at Philadelphia when a fan shouted at him -- in mid-prayer -- that God wasn't going to help him that day.

"I was like, dang, all right, that's a little harsh," Thompson told ESPN980 Wednesday afternoon.

But not as harsh as what Thompson heard sometimes happens in the stands, which is why he doesn't want his family to attend Monday night's game at Lincoln Financial Field.

Philadelphia has gained a reputation for being a hostile place for visiting teams and fans. The Redskins' bus was once pelted with eggs, with players laughing afterward about seeing little kids flip them off. And former Redskins running back Clinton Portis' mother once got into a fight during a game in Philadelphia, punching someone after an Eagles fan had tossed a beer into her section of fans.

It's not as if the Redskins always have issues there, but enough for word to spread. Those words reached Thompson during his rookie year of 2013.


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