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NFL fires official Cruz for performance-based reasons

Hugo Cruz's time as an NFL official has come to a close.

The league fired Cruz, who had served as a down judge for performance reasons and was not meeting the standard over a sustained period of time, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

The NFL Referees Association plans to file a grievance on behalf of Cruz over his dismissal, a source told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

Cruz's firing was first reported by, a website that monitors NFL officials. The site further reports Cruz's firing marks the first midseason firing of an official in the Super Bowl era.

Cruz had been with the league since 2015, but quickly became known in recent weeks as the official who missed a blatant false start late in the second quarter in Week 6's game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Cleveland Browns.

Chargers left tackle Russell Okung dropped back to block before the snap and should have been flagged. Browns defensive end Myles Garrett even pulled up in apparent anticipation of a flag, pointing to Okung while looking to an official.

The play was not blown dead and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tyrell Williams en route to a 38-14 win.

While Rapoport reported no single call led to Cruz's dismissal and no other details were disclosed, the high-profile nature of the missed infraction might have been the final nail in the coffin. Or at the very least, a contributing factor of Cruz not meeting the high standards of officiating.

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