The NFL Referees Association says it agrees with its NHL counterpart in objecting to the reduction of Dennis Wideman's suspension for knocking down a linesman.

NFLRA executive director Jim Quirk said Monday that any time an athlete makes unnecessary physical contact with an official, "there needs to be swift and certain punishment."

An independent arbitrator reduced Wideman's suspension from 20 games to 10 after ruling that the Calgary Flames defenceman did not intend to injure linesman Don Henderson in Jan. 27 game.

Quirk says arbitrator James Oldham's decision to reduce the suspension "sends a horrible message about sportsmanship and the behaviour of athletes" and calls it a sad day when an athlete is given leniency for violating the code of conduct.