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Potential NFL competitive integrity issue brought to light in Rams @ Saints game (1 Viewer)

Doug B

Footballguy
(originally posted in the NFC Championship Game thread, slight edits herein)

Yeah, I understand. It's fun to see a hated team and an arrogant coach get jobbed. Get what's coming to them. Wouldn't expect less from Vikings, Falcons, Eagles, Panthers fans, etc. You guys are the faithful opposition. And from the Saints' perspective, heavy is the head that wears the crown (or, is the #1 seed with a jerk coach). OK.

But even among those who love seeing the Saints lose ... doesn't anyone from that group sees that there is a competitive integrity issue with non-calls like that? Forget who should've won or lost. Forget Payton's play-calling. Forget previous bad calls during the game. Focus in on that one call, in the moment, in a vacuum.

Either Robey-Coleman's leveling of Tommy Lee Lewis is a legal defensive tactic or not. Though it's called a "judgement call", that's not supposed to mean an "if I feel like it" call. Or an "I want the game called loose" call. It's supposed to mean that a given rule won't always be obvious to enforce ... there will be a spectrum of outcomes and there will be indistinct areas therein. However -- calls on the "obvious" edge of the spectrum have to be made, every time. You can't fall back on "judgement call" in a case like that one. That looks horrible, and the what-ifs write themselves -- hey that ref took cash from a gambler, but who'll ever know? It was just a "judgement call", after all.

Isn't the integrity of the game above Sean Payton getting his, or Vikings fans having schadenfreude for 2009?

 

Doug B

Footballguy
Doug B said:
SaintsInDome2006 said:
That was not a missed call. That was 2 calls on one play which the ref refused to make. He didn’t miss anything.
The bolded is crucial. It wasn't a 50-50 call that was difficult to make out -- it was in space, out loud, in living color. The official could never offer a convincing public defense of his decision not to throw a flag there. To his benefit, the NFL's Don Denkinger will never have to do that.
SaintsInDome2006's point above (blue bolding, my response below) is also worth posting into this thread.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
I take it you skipped over the "forget who should've won or lost" part. Or thought I wasn't being sincere.

I full well understand that the Saints won't get a different result no matter what. But this potential issue -- buy it or don't -- is not related to who won or lost the game.

 

zftcg

Footballguy
Am I supposed to hate the Saints? I never got that memo.

I think the refs clearly blew the call. It shouldn't have happened, period. It's the worst, most consequential blown call I can remember since Don Denkinger. I haven't heard anyone justifying it, and I suspect the official who blew it will get a major downgrade.

 

fruity pebbles

Footballguy
To me, that's not even a big deal, really. Just make the call that's in front of you in the moment. And if you don't -- and it's a call like THAT -- what's up?
It prolly had nothing to do with it but to me it makes a bad situation look even worse.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
I haven't heard anyone justifying it.
I don't think I have, either. But I think a lot of people have trouble considering the issue in the moment, because it feels so good to see the Saints get theirs. I am less sure what neutral fans on this board will think. I see some Twitter buzz, but it's filtered through Saintsreport members, who are reposting everything pro-Saints, anti-ref, etc.

 

Dinsy Ejotuz

Footballguy
Kicker is that if Brees throws that pass anywhere near on time it's an easy TD.  But he was so late the defender lost track of the ball and actually overran it.  If he hadn't it would have been an easy pick six the other way.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
Kicker is that if Brees throws that pass anywhere near on time it's an easy TD.  But he was so late the defender lost track of the ball and actually overran it.  If he hadn't it would have been an easy pick six the other way.
Probably, but that’s a side issue.

This thread is inspired by something that happened in a Saints’ loss, yes. But it’s not a “Saints shoulda won” thread.

 

Steeler

Footballguy
a competitive integrity issue with non-calls like that?
That was the worst non-call that I can remember because it was so obviously a penalty.  However, are you implying that call was "fixed"?  If not, I don't see how you can get to "competitive integrity issue".

 

tjnc09

Footballguy
You could persuade me that the NFL would rather have the Los Angeles market in the super bowl instead of the New Orleans market
Yep, a city building a brand new stadium for TWO teams that can't fill seats for their "home" games.  They know LA is the Lakers and Dodgers without some major help.

 
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Doug B

Footballguy
However, are you implying that call was "fixed"?  If not, I don't see how you can get to "competitive integrity issue".
I am agnostic on that point. The information simply isn’t there to accuse anyone of a fix.

However, I would argue there is still a competitive integrity issue in situations where an individual game official decides in the moment that a blatantly illegal tactic is permissible. If THAT kind of reffing merely elicits “who cares?” shrugs, hypothetical game fixing, point shaving, etc. is much easier to cover up.

 
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Steeler

Footballguy
I would argue there is still a competitive integrity issue in situations where an individual game official decides in the moment that a blatantly illegal tactic is permissible
I understand you position better now , but I don't think you can say the play was allowed by the ref... I think it was just an egregiously bad call.  Either way, I don't care to argue so I'll bow out of the thread.

 

Dinsy Ejotuz

Footballguy
Probably, but that’s a side issue.

This thread is inspired by something that happened in a Saints’ loss, yes. But it’s not a “Saints shoulda won” thread.
No doubt it was a bad call.  Horrible.  Deserving of all the criticism.  The ref bailed out the defender's huge mistake.

Just saying Brees also made a big mistake on the same play.  And the defender bailed Brees out.

 

zftcg

Footballguy
I am agnostic on that point. The information simply isn’t there to accuse anyone of a fix.

However, I would argue there is still a competitive integrity issue in situations where an individual game official decides in the moment that a blatantly illegal tactic is permissible. If THAT kind of reffing merely elicits “who cares?” shrugs, hypothetical game fixing, point shaving, etc. is much easier to cover up.
I still don't understand your point. The ref blew the call. Can you point to an example (not including randos on Twitter/message boards) of someone who's shrugging? Because short of that, it's just a blown call. They happen. It sucks that it happened in this case and changed the result of a game, particularly one as important as this one. But blown calls don't call the league's "competitive integrity" into question. Did Don Denkinger blowing the call in the '85 series destroy baseball's integrity?

 

Da Guru

Fair & Balanced
I have no dog in fight and I don`t even consider who the coach is or what people think about him.  The bottom line is that non-call in crucial time cost New Orleans going to the Super Bowl. With all the ticky tacky PI calls this one was blatant.

There has not been one announcer or pundit who has felt different as well

 

travdogg

Footballguy
You could persuade me that the NFL would rather have the Los Angeles market in the super bowl instead of the New Orleans market
I think that is a little much. I think its just a missed call, the Rams being in the game has nothing to do with it, I'm confident it would have been the same, if it were say, Dallas instead.

 

zftcg

Footballguy
You could persuade me that the NFL would rather have the Los Angeles market in the super bowl instead of the New Orleans market
I can just imagine Goodell sitting in his office, stroking his cat, and saying to the head of officiating, "I want you to make sure LA wins. But don't fix it through some subtle penalty like holding that no one can really dispute. Instead, make it a blatant non-call on DPI that everyone will see and be talking about afterward. Your officials will be humiliated and it will spawn all sorts of conspiracy theories, but it will be worth it to have a team with one of the least loyal fan bases in the league playing in the Super Bowl."

 

Doug B

Footballguy
I still don't understand your point. The ref blew the call. ... it's just a blown call. They happen. It sucks that it happened in this case and changed the result of a game, particularly one as important as this one. But blown calls don't call the league's "competitive integrity" into question. Did Don Denkinger blowing the call in the '85 series destroy baseball's integrity?
I don’t think it was a mistake. I think the official saw the play, recognized the play immediately as a penalty, then chose not to throw the flag.

If others disagree about that, there’s nothing to talk about. But if you agree that’s likely what happened, you have to ask “Why did he not make the call?” Probably just something as prosaic as a let-‘em-play ethic gone awry. But even THAT is a problem for the league ... can’t have officials just going off on their own like that. 

...

EDIT: Leaving my original words above in this post. However, on Joe Bryant's suggestion, I am posting my Tuesday morning re-think below (originally posted on pg 3 of this thread):

Normally, seeing a foul like Robey-Coleman's would lead at least to a reflexive flag-throw from a ref. A flag that would be thrown without thinking ... no interpretation of the act necessary, no guesswork. Like Charles Martin body-slamming Jim McMahon out in the open -- the flag comes out immediately.

For the flag NOT to come out Sunday, IMHO, means that a willful determination not to throw a flag had to have been made in advance of the snap. I don't mean an act of malice -- I mean an ethic of "a flag won't decide this playoff game" taken too far. That's why I feel it wasn't a mistake or a missed call -- can't be missed because it was clearly seen by two officials at a minimum. The most charitable explanation I can summon would be that both near officials froze up (due to the pre-decision not to throw a game-deciding flag) and then upon recognition that an over-the-top foul occurred -- for whatever reason -- they could not bring themselves to counter their immediate lack of action (say, by conferencing with each other and then throwing a belated, but correct, flag).

 
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Steelers4Life

Footballguy
I actually wanted to see the Saints win that game because a good friend of mine works in their front office. The stuff about that call is getting way overblown at this point. 

As bad as that non-call was, there were plenty of missed calls on both sides during that game. The Saints had a 13-0 lead at home in a championship game and lost. They didn't lose because of that play, and had a chance after that play to stop the Rams from tying the game and a chance to win the game in overtime.

 

AhrnCityPahnder

Yinz-o-riffic
Appropriate way to pull up the rear on a season full of hot-garbage officiating.

I am 95% legit sorry for Saints fans that it ends this way. That sucks, and theres no way around it. 

But, I do have that little jerky voice that won't shut up - - I can hear it, taking some non-proud schadenfreude in Saints fans being upset about a botched PI call impacting a game.   

Joe Haden sends his regards. 

 

AAABatteries

Footballguy
I said in the game thread it's one of the top 5 worst calls I've ever seen but blown calls happen all the time.  The only way this has any ramifications is if you can prove one or more of the refs conspired to help the Rams win.  And even then, they would just fire the ref(s). 

 

JaxBill

Footballguy
Besides, i think the competitive integrity issues should be started by teams that just lost to Brady and the Pats.

 

zftcg

Footballguy
I don’t think it was a mistake. I think the official saw the play, recognized the play immediately as a penalty, then chose not to throw the flag.

If others disagree about that, there’s nothing to talk about. But if you agree that’s likely what happened, you have to ask “Why did he not make the call?” Probably just something as prosaic as a let-‘em-play ethic gone awry. But even THAT is a problem for the league ... can’t have officials just going off on their own like that. 
If you go back and read the MMQB's 2013 series on a week in the life of an officiating crew, you'll see that the biggest fear these guys have is blowing a call. It can literally ruin your career (I would bet the official from today's game doesn't get a playoff assignment next year, which is what they all work for.)

They're not out there to help one team or advance the league's agenda; like people in most jobs, they want to be judged as being good at what they do. And if that was his mindset, there's no way he swallows the whistle on a blatant DPI, because he knows the damage it will do to his reputation.

So that's why I believe it was just a blown call. If you're still not convinced, you're probably right, there's nothing more to talk about.

 

jonessed

Footballguy
The NBA has fixed playoff games in the past.  I don’t believe the NFL would ever kill their cash cow doing something so stupid, but it could happen.

 

JaxBill

Footballguy
Overall i think it was a bad day for league officiating. Multiple missed calls in first game. Second game had several lengthy reviews, questionable noncalls and makeup calls,  and ended with MVP candidate never getting ball in OT. *Rules issue more than officiating but you get my point.

 

zftcg

Footballguy
Overall i think it was a bad day for league officiating. Multiple missed calls in first game. Second game had several lengthy reviews, questionable noncalls and makeup calls,  and ended with MVP candidate never getting ball in OT. *Rules issue more than officiating but you get my point.
Agree with your overall point but I think they got all the reviews right, or at least none that were blatantly wrong. Only really horrible call I can think of from KC-NE was the Brady roughing penalty.

 

SaintsInDome2006

Footballguy
Though it's called a "judgement call", that's not supposed to mean an "if I feel like it" call.
Pool Reporter Interview with Referee Bill Vinovich
Conducted by Amie Just, New Orleans Times-Picayune/Nola.com

Amie Just:  What was the reason that there was no penalty flag called on the Drew Brees pass to Tommylee Lewis?

Bill Vinovich: It was a judgment call by the covering official.  I personally have not seen the play.

Amie Just: Did the timing in the game have any impact on the no-call there?

Bill Vinovich: Absolutely not.

Amie Just: In this situation, is the play subject to an instant replay review?

Bill Vinovich: It is not a reviewable play.
This was an absolute lie by Vinovich. That is not a judgement call. It wasn't close, it wasn't a matter of personal judgement. And it was two penalties, two. 

 
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zftcg

Footballguy
This was an absolute lie by Vinovich. That is not a judgement call. It wasn't close, it wasn't a matter of personal judgement. And it was two penalties, two. 
"Judgment call" doesn't mean 50/50. He just means the covering official has to make a determination as to whether it was a penalty, and whatever he decides can't be reviewed.

Anyway, I wouldn't put too much stock into what the referee says right after the game. His instinct is going to be to defend his crew, and as he says, he hasn't seen the play.

The real tell will be what the league says in the next day or so. If they come out and back the non-call, that would justify all the OP's concerns. But I can't imagine they will. It was a blatant miss.

 

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