Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rooting For Disaster

Not having a team to root for in the NFL Playoffs this season, I've decided instead to pull for complete and utter mayhem and disaster caused by poor officiating.  I decided this after a full day of hearing about how the Pittsburgh Steelers got hosed out of a playoff spot by the officiating crew in the Kansas City-San Diego game who missed a violation of the new rule on defensive formations on field goal attempts (which would have given the Chiefs a second kick at the end of regulation to make a game winner) and then blew a call on a clear fumble that KC returned for a touchdown in overtime--ruling that forward progress had been stopped (as the scrum with the runner in it continued to move downfield even after the ball came loose) which of course is not reviewable by replay.  The NFL has since issued "apologies" for getting those game-blowing calls wrong.

Since the NFL is reactionary, the only hope for getting the game back under some semblance of control is to have a series of blown calls and misinterpretations of the rules that directly affect the outcome of these playoff games--and hopefully the Super Bowl--to get Roger Goodell to address the crisis in his league.  Remember what finally ended the lockout of the "regular" refs and sent the "replacement" refs into history?  Of course, the TouchCeption that gave Seattle the Monday Night Football win over the Packers last season.  You may recall, the "regular" refs were given standing ovations upon their return--which immediately turned to cascades of boos following the first incorrect pass interference penalty and "unneccesary roughness on a defenseless receiver" call.  Perhaps a myriad of high-profile obvious gaffes and further lack of knowledge of the rules will force the NFL to make some major changes.

1--Simplify the rules.  Get rid of the "complete the process of the catch all the way to the ground" garbage on receptions, and the "defenseless receiver" rule, and the "hitting the quarterback too high or too low" rule, or the "defensive illegal formation on a kick attempt" rule.  Let the refs go out there with fewer rules and infractions to enforce--and they might just have an easier time getting all the calls right.

2--Dump replay, or open it up to pretty much everything on the field.  This stems from the "replay cannot be used to establish possession in the field of play" call that negated the Steelers block of a Packers field goal attempt--before the "illegal batting" call gave the ball back to Green Bay.  If you can use replay to determine if a receiver had possession of the ball before he went out of bounds, why can't you use it to decide if a defender had picked it up before lateraling it?  And we also had a couple of calls that were correct on the field--and then reversed incorrectly by the ref that went under the hood.  Replay has led to a "well if it's wrong, the coach can challenge or the booth will buzz us and we can get it right on the replay" mentality on the field--which doesn't work so well when a coach has burned all of his challenges already.  In addition, all replays should go to Central Command at the NFL offices--not the ref who just blew the initial call on the field.

3--Hire full-time refs.  I realize that those guys will have six days between games every week, but that time can be spent reviewing the rules, film of their calls and positioning from the game before and working at practices around the league to see more plays.  It might cost more--but believe me, the NFL can afford it.

So when the TV commentators are questioning a horrible personal foul penalty the next few weeks--or a phantom pass interference call sets up a game-winning score to decide a Super Bowl berth--or we spend a month debating a missed call that determines the Lombardi Trophy winner, just picture me in the Man Cave cheering wildly.

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