Oh, boy. What a weird week in the NFL. Let’s dig right in:
- Perhaps the most glaring story is the incompetence of the replacement refs. When you are officiating a game and have to refer to one team as the “red” team (which is what I’ll be calling the Falcons for the rest of the season) because you aren’t sure who they are…it’s bad. This is not a knock on the professionals who are filling in for the regular refs – they are sincerely doing the best they can. But it’s a situation in which they are simply not equipped to do the job they’ve been assigned to do. They’ve been given an impossible task and are being ruthlessly called to task on it. Fault here lies with the NFL and the representation for the regular refs. This deal should have been done ages ago. As per the National Post’s Bruce Arthur, if this continues, by Week 17 the NFL will be the Hunger Games with helmets. When it takes 54 minutes to play 15 minutes of football and general pandemonium erupts on national television, it’s high time for a resolution.
- Another big off the field story this week: the ongoing battle between the suspended Saints players and the NFL. This has dissolved into a he said-he said argument that no one is going to “win.” It’s really an unfortunate situation which speaks to the darker side of the NFL.
- Both of these issues – the officiating and the bounty scandal – call into question perhaps the biggest mountain the NFL is currently facing: player safety. The players are put in jeopardy by bad officiating and by pay-for-performance systems, but I think it goes much deeper than that into the very nature of the game. As a fan, and a passionate one at that, I don’t even want to contemplate a world without football. No one wants that. But it’s undeniable that football is a violent game that has long term repercussions, and no one wants that, either. Something has to change, and quickly.
As for actual football stories, here’s the round-up:
- Goodbye, Survivor Leaguers: I’d love to see the stats on how many Survivor Fantasy Football League (in which you pick one sure-fire win a week) players were eliminated this weekend thanks to the Cardinals (very) surprising upset of the Patriots. The Cardinals are now 2-0. Who saw that coming?
- The Bills aren’t that bad: They had a nice win over the Chiefs on Sunday, who, unfortunately, are that bad.
- The Jets aren’t that good: It’s not that they’re not good. It’s just that they’re not as good as their Week 1 48-28 win over the Bills might have suggested. This week’s loss presented some glaring insufficiencies, like having any sort of established offensive weaponry.
- Don’t throw things at your friends (or enemies): Josh Morgan effectively ended the game for the Redskins on Sunday when he retaliated to antagonism by throwing a football at Cortland Finnegan. That move incurred an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which backed the Redskins out of realistic field goal range for a chance to tie the game.I’m sure no one feels worse than he does, but really…that wasn’t the best decision.
- Football Etiquette?: When a team goes into victory formation at the end of the game, it’s generally assumed that they’ve won and the other team accepts the loss. But Greg Schiano shook things up at the end of Sunday’s Giants/Bucs game by coaching his defensive players to go after the ball on the last play of the game with the Giants in a victory formation. They ended up knocking QB Eli Manning to the ground in the process, and Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was quite fired up about the whole incident. The Bucs didn’t do anything illegal, just frowned upon. In this situation I think Herm Edwards said it best, “You play to win the game.” He’s teaching his players how to fight until the clock goes to 00:00, and you can’t fault him for that.
- A Bad Start for Peyton: Last night Peyton Manning opened the first quarter with three interceptions…in his first eight passes. It was rough. I went to bed at halftime, but from all accounts he seemed to bounce back in the second half, with the final score a respectable 21-27 loss for the Broncos.
And this week’s one last thing: this commercial.
My new favorite kind of yoga.