November 18, 2008
It was a play that should have meant nothing. It did not change the victor. It did not change who lost the game. But in the world we live in, the play was worth 66 million dollars and that was too much for the NFL to pass up.
If anyone has ever had any doubts that the National Football League is completely fixed, I present to you the end of the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers, circa 2008. In what appeared to be a gritty-hard fought game, Pittsburgh had just scored the go ahead field goal to go up 11-10 with a handful of seconds left. The Chargers were backed up and had one desperation play in their hopes of pulling off the impossible. 99 out of 100 times these types of plays never amount to much but this time something funny happened on the way to final whistle.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers completed a short pass to LaDainian Tomlinson over the middle of the field. Realizing he was going to be tackled and the game over, Tomlinson tossed the ball backward to teammate Chris Chambers. Realizing he was going to be tackled and the game would be over, Chambers tried another backward toss to another teammate. Steeler defender, Troy Polamalu tried to break that toss up and the ball ended up on the ground, which Polamalu promptly swooped up and ran it in for a touchdown. After the assumed extra point the final score of the game would have been 18-10.
That is when the fix was called in. with zero time showing on the clock and the game clearly over, the referees decided to review the play. The review was for no apparent reason because even if something was awry on the touchdown, the Steelers still would win. Both teams had started walking off and the coaches were ready to shake hands. The game was over, period. When the referees came back on the field, it was announced that there was an “illegal forward lateral pass”, which the refs declared would have ended the game prior to the score and the touchdown was removed.
Except here was the problem. There was no illegal forward pass; not even close. The first lateral was practically handed to Chambers behind Tomlinson’s back and the second one went clearly five yards behind Chambers. Additionally, IF there was an illegal forward pass, the Steelers would have declined the penalty and the game would have still ended 18-10. But the problems actually go deeper than that. The referees took about 5-10 minutes to review the play, despite the fact that after two minutes it is supposed to stand as called on the field. Additionally, the rule is there has to be “clear, indisputable video evidence” to overturn the call on the field, which was a touchdown.
The problems go even deeper than that though. If you watched the entire game, you noticed that the referees were calling the game inordinately for the Chargers. The final penalty count was actually 13-1 in favor of the visiting Chargers. Two flags for penalties were “picked up” which would have helped the Steelers. That means twice one referee threw a flag only to be overruled by another, canceling the penalty. In fact, on the game winning field goal drive the Steelers had a touchdown called back for a holding call (which appeared to be accurate). The point being that the entire game seemed to be on the verge of being fixed for the Chargers.
Fixed how you ask? I mean, the Steelers still won the game right? So what difference does it make if it is by eight points or one point? Well it sure mattered to Las Vegas bookmakers. You see the betting line for the game was the Steelers minus five points. That means if you bet the Steelers, they would have to win by at least six points for you to win. If they won by less than five points, you still would lose. So, this phantom referee review, with no time on the clock, that benefited no one playing the game, changed the final outcome for those who had wagered on the game and that amounted to quite a bit of money. The San Diego Tribune has reported that Pregame.com estimated 100 million dollars worldwide had been wagered on this game with approximately 66% of those wagers being on the Steelers. Even after figuring out the 34% that had it switched in their favor, Vegas picked up a cool 33 million dollars on the bogus review. And that is assuming that each wager was even. The final tally was probably far in excess of 34 million dollars.
So, we have a game that was decided already being reviewed for no apparent reason, other than to affect the betting outcome. The stats on wagering indicate that at least 33 million dollars changed hands due to the outcome. The referees never should have even reviewed the play but even if you make an argument for the review, there is clearly no illegal forward pass. Even if you somehow think there was, the Steelers still would have declined the penalty and the touchdown would have counted. Never have I seen such a blatant example of game-fixing in my life. The National Football League should be embarrassed, not at a “blown call” as they are trying to spin this. They should be embarrassed because they just got exposed as being a crooked league. You have to realize that if they are willing to be this bold on a meaningless play in a mid-season game; all of their outcomes are in question. There is nothing worth trusting anymore in the National Fixed League.
Two days later and the NFL admits it was a mistake. They intend to do nothing about it, even though points scored does factor into their tie-breaking system for making the playoffs. This shreds the last hope for any credibility they may have been able to salvage from this debacle. This was no mistake. This was a deliberate attempt to fix the score after the game had ended. This was a crime. The NFL should send a message that they are still legitimate and they should restore the correct score to the game to show they are not controlled by the gambling gods they routinely claim to shun. The referees in question should lose their jobs and be brought up on charges. There is no integrity left for professional football until this is resolved.