Anybody else uncomfortable about NFL playoff officiating?

sirpaulsbuddy is wondering about some of the same stuff I am, looks like. Via e-mail:

Between the pass interference call in the Denver/NE game and the no pass interference call in the Indy/Pittsburgh game, you have to wonder. And let’s don’t mention Troy Hoopdedoo’s interception that got taken away on challenge.

Uh-huh. And let’s don’t forget the “do-over” on the procedure call in the Indy game, while we’re at it.

Joey Porter is saying what a lot of people are thinking today, I suspect, and he’s a-fixin’ to be parted with his paycheck for his heartfelt, yet intemperate comments on the reffing.

Let me make something clear right up front: I am not a conspiracy theory guy. I believe that you never ascribe to treachery what can be easily explained by simple incompetence. Occam’s Razor says that the simplest explanation is usually the right one, and my corollary, Sammy’s Razor, says that the simplest explanation is usually that people are idiots.

There’s plenty of incompetence in the world, even among the best football officials on the planet. And reffing is hard. I’ve called soccer and hoops, all at a lot lower level than pro tackle football, and even when you’re working an under-14 soccer game it’s easy to miss calls.

But, if you don’t think Indy was a, ummm, how to put this? – sentimental favorite around the league office, especially in light of the horrific tragedy Tony Dungy’s family has endured in the past few weeks, well, hand in your remote on your way out the door. You’re too naive to be watching sports on TV.

Incompetence explains most things. But it’s also a quality that we like to think of as occurring randomly. A ref blows ten calls, you figure it’s going to be five each way, on average. But every once in awhile I see incompetence getting too…what’s the word I’m after here?…directional to suit me. Too purposive. Too aligned with the money.

I saw that yesterday. When the chips were down in that Indy/Pittsburgh game I saw the critical bad calls all of a sudden going in one direction, and that direction favored the team I think most of us imagine the league would prefer to see moving on. (Of course, the weird part is that in the other game, I saw the one really bad call go against the darling Patriots, and that call – the interference on Samuel – was legitimately one of the worst calls in the history of reffing. If the league lets that guy back out there again it’s begging for trouble.)

The Indy game made me uneasy. I’m not yelling conspiracy theory, but when somebody yells “fix,” I like to be able to dismiss them out of hand for the wingnuts that they obviously are. When I can’t do that, when circumstances cause me to hesitate for even a second, when I hear a Joey Porter calling the refs cheaters, and a part of my brain says “well, I can see why he might think that,” it bothers me. A lot.

If you don’t think the league is troubled by, if not the reffing itself, then the hellraising about it, go back and see how often they come out and announce that the zebras blew it. It happens, but let’s just say they don’t make a habit of it.

Oddly, it’s probably just as well for the Colts that they lost, because had they come back and won the victory, and the Super Bowl as well if they won out, would have been tainted.



  1. From a Colts Fan
    I agree with everything you are saying. When the interception call was overruled after review, I could not believe what I was seeing. At the time, I was willing to accept it only because I wanted my team to win so bad. Now, I agree with you. It is just as well that the Colts lost because in my heart, I know they deserved to get beat. Hell, they got their butts kicked royally. I am still grieving the loss, but a tainted win is all wrong.
    What is up with no off-sides call? How can it be neither a false start or encroachment. I don’t understand how it happened and how there was no explanantion. Are the refs just saying that it did not happen?
    I think I need to step back and realize that football is just a game. How can I enjoy the remainder of the playoffs now that the Colts are out? I have to love the game. Football is such a great game. How can the Colts have gone from being so good to being so lame in 4 weeks? Answer, is doesn’t truly matter. San Diego got their number and now everybody else has it. Pittsburgh played great. They deserve the win.

  2. Government Conspiracy
    The Government wanted the good old boy Colts to win just like they wanted the Bills to lose all those Super Bowls, and playoff games. (Music City Forward Lateral) Kinda funny how the NHL never really blows a call, except when there’s a phantom goal, or it’s game 6 and Brett Hull clearly has a skate in the crease, then the following year they get rid of the rule? I would like to know what my wonderful city did to deserve this?

  3. If you ask me football officiating has been gods-aweful at both the college and professional level this year.
    Let’s face what seems to be the facts. If it’s a big game, some one is going to win a lot of money. The officials seem to have found their way to gain some green too.

  4. If you ask me football officiating has been gods-awful at both the college and professional level this year.
    Let’s face what seems to be the facts. If it’s a big game, some one is going to win a lot of money. The officials seem to have found their way to gain some green too.

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