Another weekend of NFL football, another weekend filled with questionable officiating. Another weekend of one team being convinced that they got screwed and another team accepting a win that they may know isn’t really theirs. Another weekend of complete bullshit being spouted by Dean Blandino, the game’s Referee and the league office. There is no need, nor is there enough time, to create a list of terrible calls and decisions recently made by those wearing the stripes. We see and endure them almost every game and spend most of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday fixating on them.
Respected analysts like Mike Greenberg declare emphatically that “what is important is to get it right”. That getting it right should be achieved at all costs, using whatever technology we have at our disposal to ensure that we do. This widely accepted notion seems incontestable; a ‘conventional wisdom’ if you will.
So the NFL spends God-only-knows how much each week providing a myriad of cameras positioned on the sideline, on the goal line, in the stands and in the sky. A plethora of support personnel dot the field in each game along with a group of overseeing studs in NYC, as well as the broadcasters, sportswriters and other media folk who scrutinize each play. A rules analyst is now a part of each broadcast team to evaluate each call, often contradicting what happened on the field, and sometimes working frantically to cover the NFL’s back. All to get it right. Which would be great, except getting it right is still mostly a pipe dream.
Although the NFL’s bottom line has continued to increase each season under the leadership of Roger Goodell, the game itself has suffered mightily under his ‘squeeze every nickel possible out of the game’ approach. It is called ‘football’ for goodness’ sake, yet his answer to many issues is to take the foot (kicking the ball) out of football. Where once ‘getting into a player’s head’, aka ‘talking trash’ was an important part of the game, players now get flagged for looking at another player without love in their eyes.
The league may as well actually put the long-joked-about skirts on the quarterbacks, as defenses have been left with no option other than to just stand and yell at the quarterback, hoping he will simply fall down – providing they don’t get a penalty for yelling at the poor tender soul making (literally) $millions every game.
Now Goodell’s pussification of the sport has even turned Florio and Simms into wimps, as they spent an inordinate amount of time on PFT this week (Jan 30) advocating the removal of the very last remnant of gamesmanship from football by promoting the idea that teams should be prevented from hurrying to the line in situations where the call on the field might be in question. Get up! Get to the line! Call an audible and hike the ball! That’s been a part of the game forever. Maybe Florio and Simms would like it if we just stopped the clock after each and every play and spent two to five minutes making sure we get it right – which history tells us won’t happen anyway. Damn it, if a guy catches a ball inbounds, and after being tackled or hitting the ground he still has it, that’s a catch. All the time we waste examining every thirtieth of a second to see if it left his hands or hit the ground for that fraction of time is a freaking joke.
It is a game and things happen. Officials and those in charge do the best they can, yet sometimes they make mistakes, and often all the tech in today’s world wouldn’t make a difference. Are we really sure that the ball didn’t touch the ground before Franco ‘caught’ the Immaculate Reception? The Holy Roller and Brady’s Tuck Rule play changed the game and changed the rules. Dealing with them is how the game evolves – NOT by legislating the violence out of an inherently violent sport!
Sometimes the entire history of the league is affected by bad calls, like the 1965 championship game against the Colts in which Don Chandler missed the field goal that was ruled good, resulting in the Packers winning the first of their three consecutive championships. It isn’t far-fetched to think that had that field goal been ruled no good, and the Colts had won, that the Super Bowl trophy might not be called ‘Lombardi’. Would it mean as much if it was called the ‘Canton Cup’ or the ‘Ohio Oracle’? Would the NFL’s history and traditions be as rich or seem as profound? What if we had had the tech to ‘get it right’? What would things be like, if just that one call had been changed?
No one is advocating for bad calls to win the day. Of course getting it right is a goal. But at what cost? Lengthening the game, ruining a team’s hard-earned change in momentum, disqualifying a brilliant catch because of a thirtieth of a second lapse as a receiver is pounded by two cornerbacks and tumbled to the ground all take more from the game than wasting so much time and energy trying to get it right could ever add.
It is apparent that being an NFL official needs to be a full-time job, with enhanced training and practicing because we undoubtedly do not yet have the tech to get it right!
That’s OK. Why can’t we just play the game and stop letting Goodell drive it further and further down his black hole of expansion and money grubbing and pretending that we really can get it right more often than not?
The game is played by men. It should be officiated by men, with all the good and bad that goes along with that. It really is that simple.
– REENO – A graduate of Portland State University, Steve Kloser is the author of Beginning Band – A Guide to Success. Accomplished teacher, conductor, composer web developer, Packers Fan, and Proud American, Reeno’s usually slanted outlook often presents an unlikely perspective on old and new. He currently lives on the Portland, OR area.