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February 24, 2006
Or is it: Mike's got the trots?
Filed in: Current Affairs, Sports, Super Bowl XL

Prerequisite. This is the second in a multi-part series on the NFL's defense of the poor officiating in Super Bowl XL.

Now we move on to what is one of the most controversial non-calls in Super Bowl XL.

This is the way that the NFL discussed it on the self-produced NFL Total Access Official Review:



That's right, nothing was said about it at all. Not in the interview, not in the clips. Not discussed.

What am I talking about? I've already discussed this to some extent here.

What is it? It's the long Steeler's pass play to Hines Ward in the second quarter that set up the touchdown by Roethlisberger.

Some commenters have been blasting my posts here in reference to this non-call because 1) I didn't show enough still frames to demonstrate the infraction, 2) There is colloquial leeway in the call that allows for imprecision in the call, or 3) I don't know the rules. Hopefully this post will meet the sufficiency tests, though I suspect that, despite absolute proof, some people are incapable of altering their views.

Here we go.


This is the beginning of the play. The line of scrimmage is just about exactly the 40 yard line. Maybe a little over.


Here we are near the end of Roethlisberger's scramble. Max Starks is more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage. He's not engaged with a defensive player - nor is he within this sequence.


I'm not going to show every frame - maybe every couple of frames - Ben's looking, Max continues forward.

...Continue reading "Or is it: Mike's got the trots?"

Pulled by Emcee on February 24, 2006 at 05:05 AM
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February 21, 2006
So they trot out Mike
Filed in: Current Affairs, Sports, Super Bowl XL


The furor over Super Bowl XL continues to rage unabated. So much so that the NFL decided to trot out Mike Pereire, Director of Officiating to do a stint justifying the bad calls in the game (he's pretty much been missing in action until this show late last week). You can watch the clip of NFL Total Access Official Review here.

My plan is to rebut (respectfully) Mike's explanations for the poor officiating. After all, the NFL doing a 'tee-up' show to justify itself really is the fox watching the hen house. Let me at 'em...

First, in this post, we'll look at Mike's discussion of the Jackson interference call (which I have covered to some extent here):

As you can see in the clip, Mike runs the play (near the catch) back and forth a few times and talks about how this must be offensive pass interference because Jackson uses his arm to obtain separation from Hope.

What he doesn't say, and what his shill interviewer doesn't pin him down on is that Jackson didn't initiate the contact with Hope in this segment.

Let's look at some stills again:


Here they are before their final contact before the catch. (We'll avoid discussing whether Hope's contact is legal here, because there's a lot more interesting stuff coming up from Mike on that). Jackson is behind Hope on the field. No one is in contact here.


Jackson is avoiding Hope. Hope is reaching for Jackson.


Hope initiates contact with Jackson. He has reached out with his right arm and is chucking him on the left shoulder in the end zone.

...Continue reading "So they trot out Mike"

Pulled by Emcee on February 21, 2006 at 08:19 PM
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February 17, 2006
The Seahawks just didn't play well enough to win...
Filed in: Current Affairs, Sports, Super Bowl XL

This has become the flag (well the penalty flag) waving mantra for Super Bowl XL. Even Seahawks players have been soundbited parroting this drivel so as not to sound like they are whining - and so that they don't get fined.

I've been investing a little time here and there lately capturing what I can of the game. I know that the game is completed and I know what the result was. I remain unsatisfied with the NFL's obligation to its fans to provide a fair game. Until that's corrected, I'm going to continue to call them to account.

Here's another microcosm of a play with video frames again. These events occurred right in front of billions of people in the light of day (or night I suppose). In this microcosm, what does 'not play well enough' mean?


Here we are at about 10 minutes left in the second quarter. Roethlisberger has made a long pass attempt to Randle El. Seahawk defensive back Michael Boulware leaps up to intercept the pass. Leaps? Actually he flew - for a little while. In one of the most athletic plays imaginable, Boulware instigates a change in possession - not really a mistake by Roethlisberger - and it could have been a spectacular gain for Pittsburgh inside the red zone.

There are some basketball players that can execute something like a 42 inch vertical jump. There are probably only a handful of athletes in the world that could do what Boulware did here. This is one of the most extraordinary images I have ever witnessed in all of sport. At this moment billions of eyes must have been transfixed on what was happening here.


But, not only has he elevated to this extraordinary height, he has taken possession of the ball - and both he and Randle El realize that he must keep possession all the way to the ground. In this case that's a long way down and a relatively long time. Randle El's reaction is to attempt to dislodge the ball in the most aggressive way possible - he can't reach the ball - Boulware's clearance above the ground exceeds the height of most human beings - so Randle El goes for his head.


In this frame you can see that Randle El has twisted Boulware's neck far to the right with his left hand clasped over Boulware's face mask. At full video speed this is a vicious snap.


Not as well in view until they approach the ground - Randle El's right hand has been jammed against Boulware's face mask as well - and as they approach the ground Randle El uses his right hand to slam Boulware's head into the ground to attempt to dislodge the ball.

Granted that this happened pretty fast - and Boulware's athleticism was amazing. But, Randle El's actions are among the most egregious that you could ever witness on a football field. I could not have been the only fan that observed this - but that's not the point.

Given the extraordinary circumstances of this play, it had to have been observed closely by one or more officials - and there was no call. No flag. No fifteen yards for facemask, unsportsmanlike conduct, or unnecessary roughness - all certainly qualified here.

Now, before you whinegangsters get going, I'm not suggesting that this non-call affected the outcome of the game - there are plenty of those to deal with. Sure there's something to be said about starting from the 32 instead of the 17. Perhaps it wouldn't have been a three and out because of that. That's something we'll never know.

No, what's important about thinking about this play is: Did Michael Boulware play well enough to 'win' on this play? There isn't any question about that. He did affect a change in possession and so he 'won' in that context. Did he win in the context of the rules of football? No, he didn't. He was fouled in one of the most egregious ways possible. He could have been terribly injured because of the foul. The league and the officials are obligated to penalize the offender for these infractions. But they didn't.

Something we can be certain of is this: Officials observed, in real time, both the amazing athleticism and the egregious foul on this play. No penalty was called. The NFL has publically stated that no mistakes were made by the game officials. We have the right to ask and the right to expect an answer to "Didn't Michael Boulware play well enough to win on this play? How and why was something like this allowed to happen?"

Pulled by Emcee on February 17, 2006 at 11:50 PM
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So, you're not going to let this go, huh?
Filed in: Current Affairs, Sports, Super Bowl XL

Nope. Fans require a fair game. We're going to fight for that.

This week the NFL announced a new logo for the upcoming Super Bowl XLI in Miami, Florida.


A spokesperson for the NFL said "We know there was a lot of confusion about what kind of game we run for the most important sporting event in the world. We designed this logo to be clear about that."

The design firm PP&P designed the logo and a spokesperson for the firm said "We noticed how the official penalty flag and the Steeler's Terrible Towel are nearly indistinguishable, and thought that they nicely complemented the reflection of the sunshine on the Miami skyline."

"It is our hope that everyone will look forward to next year's game", said the NFL spokesperson. "There is a lot of suspense about whether it will be three or four officiating calls or non-calls that will determine the outcome of the game", the spokesperson added, chuckling, "We hear that a whole new set of wagers are being developed to generate fan excitement in this regard."

Pulled by Emcee on February 17, 2006 at 09:54 PM
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February 08, 2006
NFL defends the indefensible
Filed in: Current Affairs, Sports, Super Bowl XL

The NFL publically announced yesterday that the Super Bowl was properly officiated.

The league said Tuesday that no mistakes were made by the game officials...

What sort of Orwellian world do we live in?

The NFL could have easily taken the right path in this situation and could have announced an investigation into the egregious calls that affected the game's outcome. Instead they have ostensibly said: "America, don't believe your lyin' eyes. We know what's best for you. Take our position as a signal that, in our league, athletic competition is not the determining factor in the outcome of our contests - administrative management is."

When you defend fraud, you become fraud.

On the ESPN link referenced above, the Sportsnation poll disbelieves the NFL about 80% to 20%. Gosh, even the president has better numbers than that.

Pulled by Emcee on February 8, 2006 at 11:35 AM
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February 07, 2006
The day the NFL became the WWF
Filed in: Current Affairs, Sports, Super Bowl XL

So you think this is just some Seattle fan outrage that is unsustainable? Here's the latest results of the ESPN Sportsnation poll (my answers in bold):

1) What grade would you give referee Bill Leavy's officiating crew for Super Bowl XL?

49.3% F
25.6% D
14.4% C
8.8% B
1.9% A
2) How do you rate the overall state of officiating in the NFL?
34.6% Average
32.9% Bad
19.3% Good
11.2% Abysmal
1.9% Excellent
3) Did the officiating in Sunday's game unfairly favor one team?
78.5% Unfairly favored the Steelers
16.6% The right calls were made
4.9% Unfairly favored the Seahawks
4) Which played the biggest role in determining the outcome of the game?
56.2% Officials missing calls
29.2% Seahawks not making plays
14.6% Steelers making plays
5) Do you think the official made the right call on Darrell Jackson's offensive pass interference in the endzone, negating a Seattle touchdown in the first quarter?
73.1% No
21.2% Yes
5.7% I'm not sure
6) Do you think the football broke the plane of the goal line on Ben Roethlisberger's touchdown run in the second quarter?
59.0% No
26.3% Yes
14.8% I'm not sure
7) Do you think the official made the right call on Sean Locklear's holding penalty in the fourth quarter, negating an 18-yard reception to the one-yard line by Jerramy Stevens?
73.5% No
15.9% Yes
10.6% I'm not sure
8) Do you feel that you understand what constitutes a ''football move'' on plays involving potential fumbles?
65.1% Yes
34.9% No
9) How much would creating full-time officiating positions, instead of the current part-time positions, help improve the quality of NFL officiating?
44.8% A lot
42.7% A little
12.5% Not at all
10) Which major sport has the best officials?
44.8% MLB
23.5% NHL
20.1% NBA
11.6% NFL
Total Votes: 151,170

Sorry Shanoff, this one's not going to fade. What people will remember 40 years from now about this game is that it was the end of legitimate athletic competition determining the outcome of the football championship of the world. Zebra stripes, not players will come to mind.

Pulled by Emcee on February 7, 2006 at 01:27 PM
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Play's Anatomy
Filed in: Current Affairs, Sports, Super Bowl XL

(See my entire and growing series of posts on Super Bowl XL.)

DO you have a video tape or hard disk recording (that you can transfer to DVD or video tape) of the Super Bowl? I will pay you and make it worth your while for your recording - please send me an email or leave a comment if you can help me.

They hyped an ABC medical show (located in Seattle) all during the Super Bowl called Grey's Anatomy. Excuse me.

Too bad they haven't performed any autopsies on the fraudulent calls on the field so far. Guess I'll have to do it.

NFL films released a short clip about the game - at least one of the calls was left out entirely, but we've got enough to take a look at what actually happened versus what cash made happen last night.

First example: Touchdown pass to D-Jack in the first quarter...


This is called Defensive Holding.  Chris Hope has both hands on D-Jack - the left hand enclosed on D-Jack's upper arm.


He continues contact and impedes D-Jack's progress down the field actually changing his direction with the contact. After five yards from the line of scrimmage, no contact is allowed by the defensive back on a receiver. It must be that it's the Super Bowl and 'we just have to let them play' ...

...Continue reading "Play's Anatomy"

Pulled by Emcee on February 7, 2006 at 02:15 AM
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February 05, 2006
Yes Jemima, the Fix was in...
Filed in: Current Affairs, Sports, Super Bowl XL

Offensive pass interference that wasn't even close to being so...

A touchdown that wasn't a touchdown...

A holding call on a pass completion to the two yard line that wasn't even close to holding...

These are the components of a 14 point swing that makes a Super Bowl score 21-14 Seattle (or at best 21-17) instead of the 21-10 Pittsburgh travesty that it was.

I've watched football for more than 40 years and I've never seen a clearer example of a fixed game - one that should immediately generate a full scale investigation into referee bribery. No breath holding here.

Even the network announcers were amazed that these calls took place.

It's this kind of disgusting scene that denigrates sports and athletic competition and I frankly cannot believe that more is not being made of these terrible calls that affected the outcome of the game. That's not what sports are about. It's one thing to be fairly beaten - another entirely to be robbed in public view. The NFL should be ashamed.

UPDATE: In case you're thinking 'sour grapes', check out these Seattle Times quotes. And friend Hood, though dispassionate about this game, commiserates.

ESPN writer Michael Smith on the Third Team. Skip Bayless on Detroit's crime spree.

Not a single photo of any of the game result changing calls on the NFL site. Not one.

Pulled by Emcee on February 5, 2006 at 08:56 PM
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