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The Court of Public Opinion: Guilty Until Proven Otherwise

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Amid the great furor of the clearly bogus call in the recent Detroit Lions-Dallas Cowboys struggle, a few things seem to have been missed. For normal citizens, picking up a penalty flag on so obvious a violation of the "rules of the game," would result in some sort of accusation of "cheating" or at least a demand for a legitimate explanation. To most fans, NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino's explanation sounded about as logical as: "Well, they had a meeting and the back judge told the other refs that he would split the money he was to receive for throwing the game with them if they would agree to change the call. Any hesitancy they might have had was quickly remedied by the fact that no investigation is ever done into the strange calls in the NFL." Why jeopardize a multi-billion dollar sport? Face it NFL, fans forget as soon as the next "fixed' game starts. Now, I don't really think the games are "fixed," but one has to admit, until proven otherwise, it is the most reasonable explanation presented so far. The same charlatans will keep officiating in the playoffs!

The second thing that most pessimistic fans fail to realize, one that is far more important than our fleeting frustration with bogus calls, is that no serious injury occurred because of that bad call or any of the other bad calls in the game. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Florida State debacle against the Oregon Ducks. The fact that the Ducks completely overwhelmed the Seminoles completely overshadowed the nefarious officiating and the grave danger it posed to the young men playing the game. This is something that the usually professional and sound-minded Kirk Herbstreit would most often observe. However, on this night, he must have been ogling the cheerleaders or dreaming about playing for Oregon. He never mentioned the mugging of the Seminole receivers especially in the first half. I am a "Gator" with two degrees from the University of Florida and with no allegiance to the "Half fast- U Semi-holes," but I know when something is really "screwy in Denmark" as Shakespeare would say in the Bronx.

When Seminole tight end O'Leary is held on almost every play and pushed to the ground again and again before he can catch the ball, when he is dragged by his jersey for 10 or 12 yards then pushed to the ground without penalty in the endzone, the officials have been told by "someone" to permit the receivers to be mugged. Worse yet, while Herbstreit is busy expressing his admiration for the Oregon lightning offense, the little Seminole receiver is targeted helmet to helmet, of course with no call and no comment. On the next play, a penalty halts the play almost before it is started, but that does not stop the Oregon defender from hitting the same defenseless receiver again helmet to helmet. With the wide receiver lying on the ground, the incredulous Herbstreit says "he must have been hurt by the previous play."

By this point, I am livid, not because of the score, because I don't really care who wins, but by the fact that Jimbo Fisher isn't even trying to protect his "kids" from whoever it is that told the officials to permit his players to be mugged. Have the quarterback "accidentally" throw the ball at the official's head or his private parts, threaten to pull your team off the field and forfeit the game. Threaten to call your lawyer or the police and tell the offending officials that you'll file criminal charges if you have to. Personally, I would have mentioned in my half-time interview, something about the billion-dollar lawsuit I was thinking of filing if the "mugging" didn't stop. In fact, if FSU's athletic director has any gumption at all, he needs to get on the stick. Personally, I think the pimps and their employees that run the NCAA need a nice multibillion-dollar lawsuit and a few criminal charges. It's obviously the only way they'll even consider cleaning up their act.

You see, at least the NFL has been making half-hearted attempts to address the problem of concussions and serious injuries to their players. Their multibillion-dollar lawsuit, of course, might have inspired their sudden pangs of conscience. As for their problem with rules and replay, under the present circumstances, there is probably no real hope. As long as a committee combining rich demented and rich arrogant owners attempts to write the rules they'll never make sense. They need to hire outside minds with some idea about what the rules and replay are for as opposed to "what can we get out of it?"

The best example of the fiasco of NFL "legislation" is the current policy of the poor enucleated Dean Blandino in New York deciding whether there is enough evidence to overturn a call that has been butchered on the field. Because the NFL does not train or trust its officials, it makes it impossible for them to use their judgement to overturn a call, resulting in far more failures than other sports that use replay (even the NHL where "sending it to Toronto" is, unfortunately, a common term used for "cheating"). The fact that so many NFL calls are careless is what leads to the poor success of its replay. Nothing is more obvious, in fact, than the NFL's concept that "change of possession" plays are no more important than any other plays. It never occurred to their amateur rules committee that the burden of proof on a call that changes the possession of a ball should always rest with the change of the possession. If the official wasn't sure of the call, he shouldn't have called it a fumble or an interception. The idea is to get it right, not make the official look good or keep from hurting the poor guy's feelings.

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Last, but not least, New England Coach Bill Belichick is right; it surely would help if all plays could be subject to review. It works fairly well in college and lends some credibility to the calls (which is why we know the FSU-Oregon game was so obviously mishandled on purpose). It would also keep a league that has always seemed to suffer from the accusation of "fixing" its own games from the inevitable federal investigation, something that should have occurred a long time ago.

Al Finkelstein (Ofinky) 1/7/15 (Gator Fan)

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Dr. Allen Finkelstein, writing since 2006 under the penname “O’finky,” was born in New York, where he attended the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County as a boy. He continued his religious training in South Florida until his family, (more...)
 

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