Structurally, the NFL is the worst league in professional North American sports. Sunday’s AFC and NFC Championship Games further proved that.
Once again, one of the biggest days in sports was marred by poor officiating, puzzling rules, and sheer ignorance from the powers that be. And it clearly decided who was going down to Atlanta to meet in Super Bowl LIII.
To put it plainly, the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs were done in by a blown pass interference call and a coin toss.
Before you NFL junkies — who like to die on every hill when it comes to defending this league gets heated — I just want to tell you how much I abhor going after officials or technicalities or commissioners. Usually, when those kinds of thoughts creep into my mind I think I’m more deserving of wearing a tinfoil hat and coming up with conspiracy theories in my basement.
However, Sunday provided quite a stain for the so-called most popular sporting league in the United States.
The NFC Championship Game saw the Los Angeles Rams gifted with another life after defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman eviscerated New Orleans’ TommyLee Lewis on a 3rd-&-10 pass from Drew Brees on the Rams’ 13-yard-line.
Had the officiating crew led by Bill Vinovich contained eyes, a brain, or possibly different motives, it would have given the Saints an automatic first down with 1:45 left in the game with the game tied at 20 apiece.
The Saints would have then had an easy opportunity to run the clock down and kick a game-winning field goal as time expired.
Instead, New Orleans had to kick a field goal and give the ball back to the Rams, who went down and tied the game before winning it in overtime.
After the game, Saints head coach Sean Payton received a call from NFL head of officiating Al Riveron saying that Vinovich’s crew got the call wrong.
Gee, what consolation. Basically, an incompetent official’s incompetent boss says “my bad.” That doesn’t change the fact that the Rams are going to the Super Bowl instead of the Saints.
It kind of makes you wonder if things would have been called different if the roles were reversed. After all, the Rams being in the Super Bowl is a huge win for the NFL as they try to grow the game’s legitimacy in Los Angeles, a major sports market that has been stubborn to accept the league.
Hold on, let me put my tinfoil hat away.
It would be tough to top that display of head-scratching ineptitude from the NFL, but it was only the beginning as the AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and Chiefs saw a classic slugfest hindered by governing issues.
Sure, there was plenty of poor officiating, including a ridiculous roughing the passer call on Chiefs pass rusher Chris Jones, who’s arm hit the shoulder of Tom Brady that gifted the Patriots a first down. New England was trailing 21-17 with 7:05 left in the game with the call gifting them an automatic first down instead of it being 3rd-&-7.
Granted, the Patriots were a machine when it came to converting third downs on Sunday night. And the Chiefs shot themselves in the foot plenty of times, most notably when Dee Ford canceled out the game-winning interception when he lined up in the neutral zone.
The biggest problem with how things ended in Kansas City was that the Chiefs never got a chance to touch the football in overtime.
The NFL’s rules for the extra period, in which the game ends if the team that gets the ball first scores a touchdown, basically puts a team’s entire season on the chances of a coin toss. It’s mind boggling how in a conference title game, both offenses can’t get at least one possession of the football.
You’re going to tell me only Brady deserved a chance at getting the ball and not Patrick Mahomes because of a coin toss? Neither defense was going to stop either quarterback in overtime last night. It’s only logical that, at least for the postseason, the Chiefs got the ball for a chance to force a double overtime.
A variation of this idea has worked in college football for years. How can the NCAA, which is one of the most corrupt organizations on the planet, have this right and not the NFL?
It just doesn’t make any sense. And I wish the issues stopped there, but they didn’t.
A report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Sunday revealed that former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt has been receiving interest from “multiple teams,” and that he’ll be signed by an NFL franchise “sooner rather than later.” Hunt was cut by the Chiefs in late November when a video surfaced of him shoving and kicking a woman, actions that should never see the rusher wear an NFL uniform again, at the least.
Yet, this just further proves that if you’re talented, the NFL will look the other way on basic human values because the only thing they really care about is the almighty dollar. Anything else some fan or official tells you is a boldfaced lie.
But hey, enjoy the Super Bowl.