Monday, January 16, 2006

NFL's integrity in doubt

The NFL's integrity as a sport is in doubt. The officiating is so bad and so incompetent. How can the leading sport in the US have some of the worst officiating at the most important time of the year?

I am not just biased here. Yes, I am huge Patriots fan and was disgusted to see the officials hand the Broncos a TD on bad calls not just once, but twice! But I hate the Steelers, and I was outraged when the Polamalu interception of Manning was overturned. In many ways this was worse than the Samuel (bullshit!) pass interference. In that Samuel situation, the officials had to find sufficient evidence (which there in fact was) to overturn the ruling on the field. Okay, I get that someone judges (incorrectly) that there is not enough evidence to overrule the field decision. But in the Polamalu interception, the ruling on the field was that it was an interception. The official now had to find enough evidence to overrule that. With more time and more views of the play, there is no reason to get this call wrong.

Both of these horrific calls handed TDs to the opposing teams. I tend not to be attracted to conspiracy theories, but I am beginning to think that the NFL had a hand in these calls. Subtle pressure on the officials: We want the Colts in the Super Bowl, and we don't want the Pats.

I am more convinced of the first point. The Pats killed themselves in their game; despite the bad calls they could have won had they not made the mistakes they did. But the Colts had a puff schedule, rule changes to favor their style of play, and extraordinary calls in their favor.

(Before you bring up the Snow ball and the tuck rule: almost every commentator, analyst, expert, agrees that the official's ruling was the correct one. In the case of the two examples discussed above, almost everyone is in disbelief at the sheer incompetence)

Something has to be done to improve officiating. Replay isn't enough. It helps, but then these idiots in stripes make mistakes even with it. One proposal that I think might help is to set up an independent committee to review the officiating in each game, each week and to fine officials when they make the wrong call. That'll make them think twice before interfering, wouldn't it?

Edit (1/16 5.45pm): NFL admited that Ref got the call wrong. What I want to know is what consequences there are for the ref for getting this call wrong.


Joe Duarte said...

I don't know man. Is conspiracy/corruption the best explanation? Maybe. I guess it could be bias without a smoking gun. Maybe no one needs to instruct the refs to accommodate the Colts - they just know in some subtle way.

It will be interesting to see how the Broncos play this Sunday.

Shawn Klein said...

It is a bit outrageous...but still, stranger things have happened.

I'll be pulling for the Broncos. Mostly because I think Shanahan is a better coach than Cowher.