Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Clueless in Seattle

I have been watching the NFL for a long time. The first game I can remember was between the Packers and the Los Angeles Rams in November of 1965. I've been hooked ever since.

I have never seen anything like last night.

It's not just that there was a spectacularly bad blown call at the end of the game. That happens. It was not even that there was a series of blown calls - all of which were necessary to put the Packers in a position to lose that game. I've seen that.

It's not even that these replacement officials are spectacularly incompetent. It is becoming quite clear that officiating an NFL game is a very difficult thing to do.

The thing about last night is the clinging stupidity on display. It is the utterly brain dead obstinence.

The refusal to reverse the call was extraordinary. I don't see how any sentient human being with a basic understanding of the rules of the game could watch the replay and fail to understand what had really happened.  It is as if the referee, not satisfied with being incompetent, doubled down and went for feckless.

For this, the replacements can be cut no slack. I can understand why they were unable to officiate the game properly. I cannot understand they lacked the courage to clean up their mess.

But the obstinence that is most stunning may be that of Roger Goodell and the NFL owners. This was not some one-off, incredibly bad performance by the officials. It is the culmination of three weeks of games being spoiled because they are being officiated by people who are not up to the task.

I get the thinking. The NFL believes, with reason, that it is so popular that its fans will tolerate an adulterated product for as long as it takes to resolve its dispute with the referees.

I wouldn't be so sure.

It is, as I said, not unheard of for a game to be decided by a bad call. It is rare that an officiating mistake is as gobsmackingly wrong as this one, but that is a matter of degree and not kind. What may catch up to the league is that this appears to be happening as a result of a deliberate decision by league management. It’s hard not to think that the NFL is being penny wise and pound foolish.

Cross posted at www.sharkandshepherd.blogspot.com

No comments: