Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pete Morelli Is Neo: He Stops Time

Pete Morelli and his crew were able to stop time at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

The review of the Aaron Rodgers fumble/incomplete pass took about 10 minutes in real time. It felt like forever. I was running around the house and actually was able to load the fireplace with fresh wood, and start a fire from scratch - ALL WHILE they were dithering over this one play, in a game that had already been blown wide open.

As Dave Barry likes to say: "I am not making this up."

The "whoosh" from the crumpled newspaper had just engulfed my logs in a pleasing inferno, I stepped back to admire my work, then glanced over at the TV and thought: "Holy shit, they are STILL on this play?"

But alas, replay fanatics will say that nothing is more important than "getting the call right."

So what if it takes 10 minutes of watching your beer ice over in the stands? Right, things must be RIGHT! At all times. Always. And how do we know what "right" is? Well, we have RULE books, and the rules are simple, except when they are not.

And plays on the field, with the aid of 30 frames-per-second of 1080 interlaced lines of high definition video, from multiple camera angles, simply can NEVER be wrong!

Except when they are wrong. Or most people think the call is still wrong.

It only takes one referee, who has to walk to his car after the game, to make a HUMAN judgement on all those lines of resolution and still frames of video.

His opinion, vs. the world.

This is not science. There is no such thing as "conclusive evidence."

And so now, the replay system in the NFL, with its myriad of mechanisms, produces such grotesque interruptions of games, and an often oddly distorted sense of "hey, was that really fair?"

Imagine if you had to EXPLAIN the replay system to a complete football novice from another country? It would go something like this.

Replay is simple....

Either coach can challenge a call by the referees in the game.
Except holding, pass interference, personal fouls, and well, many many other things.
But you can challenge fumbles, catches, in/out of bounds and interceptions.
When the whistle blows, the play is not necessarily over.
If a guy recovers a fumble, after the whistle, and they *think* he wasn't helped by the whistle, that's okay.
You only get two challenges per game.
You can't challenge a play after the next play has been run, no matter what.
If you are RIGHT on both challenges, you get one more. But that's it, win or lose.
Losing a challenge costs you a timeout.
If you are out of timeouts, you are out of challenges.
Under 2 minutes in each half, the wise men in the booth call for challenges.
If you think they have missed a big one, too bad, you may not challenge. Ever.
All scoring plays are challenged. Except field goals that are over the top of the goalpost.
These challenges are "free" because the booth conducts them.
However, if a player is wrongly ruled to have not scored a TD, then you have to spend a challenge.
Sorry if you don't have one.
Replays can only take 90 seconds, because we gotta keep things moving.
Wait, what? Never mind. Nobody has enforced that last one in years.

Compounding this weekly nonsense, is the NFL's rash of safety related "points of emphasis." These are "rules" which are more like "guidelines" because every referee has his own "guess" as to how strict to enforce them.

Hits on QB's are the most controversial.

In the Redskins-Patriots game, QB Rex Grossman, scrambling from pressure, fading away, threw a wounded duck that was picked off. However, because DE Andre Carter dove at him as he was fading away, and grazed his legs, the play was ruled "roughing the passer."

Because once upon a time, a very popular quarterback named "Tom Brady" got hit in his leg and missed an entire season. As you recall, the league suffered massive financial losses, and almost had to cancel the Super Bowl due to lack of interest.

Oh, wait, no they didn't.

Not a goddamn thing happened bad to the league because of that. One bad thing happened to one popular player, and the NFL went and turned the rule book into something more restrictive than "date night" at the Duggar household.

So if you are a Redskins fan, you are secretly fist pumping like mad on your sofa at this call, because it was like stealing a car in broad daylight, and then watching the cop who is chasing you drive right into a train.

But alas, karma, and the NFL rulebook is a bitch, because later in the game, this same "very popular player", Tom Brady, runs for a first down, and gets his ass whomped real good because he's so damn slow, he even slides slow.

You see, if a QB slides, you can't hit him. At all. Anywhere. But if he's not YET sliding, then he's fair game. When does a "slide" begin? I don't know. Conception? Ask the Duggars.

So even though London Fletcher is one of the most straight-up, clean tackling, good-guy, anti-James Harrison linebackers the league has ever known, the referee decides he better "even things up" just a bit from the previous horseshit call.

And this referee, mind you, one Jeff Triplette, fucked up a few weeks ago by not knowing the overtime rules format for the regular season, which of course, is now DIFFERENT from the post-season. He's also a referee who blinded an offensive lineman by firing his lead-filled penalty flag into his eye.

(I seriously can't remember an NFL referee ever getting FIRED, for just plain sucking. Except for maybe the infamous Phil Luckett, who jacknifed an overtime coin-toss, requested to be demoted "back judge" and then was likely shot in the head in the Vegas desert by a league office goon. I haven't seen that beak-nosed loser in some time. Have you?)

On top of all of this, Triplette just kinda "wings it" out there on calls, quite often picking up flags, claiming there was no penalty on the play.

So after talking with a few guys on his crew while Fletcher went positively crazy in disbelief, Triplette decides he would just "wing it" one more time on this call, and claim that Fletcher had hit Brady in the HEAD with an elbow, which would, technically, be a penalty.

Replay, however, proved otherwise. Unless Tom Brady's "head" is in an area commonly referred to as your "stomach."

Oh, boy wouldn't it have been nice to challenge that one!

Ha! Guess what! You can't suckers!

Because we want these games to be RIGHT, no matter how complicated getting the calls RIGHT might be, or how long it may take. But we admit, there's only so much "right" that we can massage into a game of human error and almost comical rule book complexity.

So on the game went, when the Redskins managed to tie the game with a TD pass to Santana Moss in the final two minutes. Except there was a flag for "offensive pass interference" nullifying the score - a call about as rare as somebody being prosecuted for firing their musket in a crowded saloon.

The Columbia Broadcasting System, which was telecasting this game to the home audience, understood the gravity of this crushing judgement call, which was not reviewable by replay, and as such... decided to NEVER SHOW THE PLAY AGAIN!

The highly paid announcers also moved along briskly, hardly mentioning the call at all.




And then there was this Al Riveron abortion in the "Don't Call Us Phoenix" Cardinals game....


  1. Virtually every close call is micromanaged so badly it's as tedious as circumcising mosquitoes. Also, the reaction to dealing unnecessarily violent hits out of the game has now gone so far over the top that such things as a "vicious" forearm to the abs gets a guy popped for a 15-yard personal foul penalty.

    The NFL is still king for now, but make no mistake, it's also in decline. The dirty little (not so) secret is that gambling is the wind and dry timber that fuels this league's wildfire of popularity. Make enough people start believing that it's not worth staking big cash on outcomes that are subject to ambiguous rules interpretations, regularly botched by Goodell's striped buffoons, and you'll watch the popularity of this sport fall off quickly.

    I'm no Vegas high roller, but I used to wager several hundred dollars each NFL weekend. Now, I just throw my hat into a joker fantasy football league at a few hundred dollars for the entire season because I got tired of having hundreds of dollars each week in the hands of some monkey under a hooded TV monitor, which evidently may or may not turn on...flip a coin...just don't have Phil Luckett do it.

  2. Instant replay has always sucked. "Getting it right" is not worth the damage it does to the flow of the game. I hate watching a big play that may have been close, and the wondering if it will be challenged. And, many times, the replay ruling defies explanation. The game would ultimately be much better off just getting rid of replay altogether.

  3. College football seems to have figured out how to make the replay system work. Why can't the NFL? The college system is not perfect because a judgement call still has to be made and it can be wrong, but at least it is relatively seamless in its execution.

    My guess is that the NFL wants its challenges to take a little longer so they can slip a few commercials in. If the play is confirmed or overruled in 15 seconds, how are they are going to be able to slip in another pickup truck commercial?

  4. Yet you guys eat it right up every Sunday (and Thursday, and Monday) and simply can't get enough.

  5. Hey Steve...the reason the Packer review was taking so long was because they were having technical difficulties with the review equipment. They still didn't have it fixed at the start of the second half because the Raiders couldn't challenge Randall Cobb's kickoff return. It was obvious he stepped out of bounds.

  6. Tuck rule is and always will be bull - if you're trying to hang on to the ball and can't, it's a fumble.

    Hochuli did the Thursday game as well as the Cinci game, NFL looking to cut travel costs for refs? C'mon, old R85 needs time to pump up!

    Didn't see the Eagles/Dolphins game, but it had to be a bad combination of a team with a mobile quarterback and Ron "Lost a footrace to JoePA" Winter as the ref.

    Where's Ben Dreith when the league needs him?!?!?!

  7. Not only didn't CBS replay the Moss PI call... on the ensuing interception, they were unable to produce a single replay from the far sideline. As if they didn't have a camera over there. In fact, it was humorous for this fan to see how many different times they replayed the interception (all from Redskins side of the field) but could not produce a single replay of the Moss PI call.

    I'm not claiming conspiracy. Redskins did not deserve to win once Rex did the fumble in the end zone thing. But, CBS game production is lacking, in my opinion. I don't even like the quality of their HD compared to Fox/ESPN/NFLN.

  8. I sat there the whole time during this Packers-Raiders debacle thinking "They are spending so much time on - SOMETHING THAT DOES NOT MATTER!" Whether the Raiders scored or not on that play was immaterial - they had already lost the game. Give 'em the 6 and move it along, guys...

  9. "He's also a referee who blinded an offensive lineman by firing his lead-filled penalty flag into his eye." Come on, Czabe, you're better than this. The ref throwing a flag that hit an offensive lineman in the eye was a freak accident. You make it sound like he was intentionally trying to injure the guy.