In a highly unusual decision, the NFL has fired an official in midseason, recently terminating the employment of down judge Hugo Cruz.

The league has not provided any public comment on the firing, which was first reported Thursday by and confirmed by The Post. Cruz was not a part of an officiating crew in Week 7 after missing a key false start the week before in a game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Cleveland Browns.

On a second-quarter play, Chargers left tackle Russell Okung left his stance early, causing Browns defensive end Myles Garrett to pause his pass rush for a moment while pointing at Okung and expecting a penalty. No flag was thrown, leading Los Angeles quarterback Philip Rivers to hit wide receiver Tyrell Williams for a long touchdown.

“It was so obvious,” an angry Garrett said after the game (via, which the Chargers won. “To my mind, he’s moved, nobody else has moved and the ball hasn’t moved, so it’s kinda textbook. The flag should be up. … I don’t understand how you don’t see it, that’s [the official’s] job is to look down the line and see when people are jumping offside or false starting, but I’ve got to keep on finishing the play. … That’s not on Okung, he’s just doing his job. It’s on the ref and to him to have that kind of integrity to call that play when it comes.”

The missed false start alone likely would not have led to Cruz’s firing so much as a series of missteps, although ESPN cited sources in reporting that there was “no indication that Cruz committed an off-field mistake or that his firing was in any way disciplinary.” As noted, he has a noteworthy lack of playoff officiating assignments in the past two seasons, indicating that he may not have graded out well.

According to the website, this is the first time in the Super Bowl era that an official has been fired during the regular season. The head of the NFL Referees Association vowed to contest the move.

“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,” Scott Green, executive director of the NFLRA, 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.”

Cruz began working NFL games in 2015, after officiating Conference USA action.

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