Congratulations to the New York Football Giants for defeating the
Green Bay Packers to advance to the NFC Championship Game in San
Francisco next week. It was a fantastic win, and New York QB Eli Manning
once again proved that he must assuredly is an “elite quarterback.” (He
is 2-0 vs. Aaron Rodgers in the postseason) But what I really want to
talk about here is my rage over the horrendous, embarrassing officiating
during today’s game at Lambeau Field, in Green Bay, Wisc. It was so bad
that I thought I was watching an NBA game. This was a really tough win
for Big Blue.
It could not have been more obvious that the
officiating crew was trying to protect the defending Super Bowl
champions and the league’s golden boy, Aaron Rodgers – even at the cost
of tarnishing the perception of NFL officiating and the credibility of
the league itself. We all know that so-called “good teams” get all the
breaks when it comes to close calls, and that’s to be expected. However,
there’s a world of difference between giving a team a few extra inches
on a spot and completely making stuff up out of whole cloth. This isn’t
just letting a cornerback get away with some hand jive; it’s calling
stuff that isn’t there, and pretending stuff that is, isn’t.
first example came in the second quarter, when the Packers’ Greg
Jennings fumbled the ball and the Giants recovered. Except that it
didn’t play out that way: During the commercial break, the call on the
field was overruled by another official, forcing the Giants to challenge
the non-fumble call. Although replays from multiple angles clearly
showed Jennings losing possession of the ball before his knee, elbow or
butt hit the ground, referee Bill Leavy inexplicably decided that
replays showed Jennings’ knee hitting the ground before the ball was
ripped loose – despite the fact that Jennings’ knees ended up pointed
toward the shy, and his butt hit the ground first! It was a travesty of
the first order. Maybe Leavy was watching cartoons under that hood.
one hates the Giants more than the Fox broadcasting team of Joe Buck
and Troy Aikman, so when those guys say the Giants got jobbed, you know
the Jints were scre wed over! Even Mike Pereira, the former league
official who advises Fox on officiating matters and usually comes up
with some way to justify any and all bogus calls against the Giants,
shook his head in disbelief at the bizarre ruling. The call itself was
an outrage, but then the Pack added insult to the injury by going on to
score a touchdown.
Shamefully, the embarrassing performances from the officials continued.
the second half, it appeared that the officials decided to try to help
the Packers get back in the game by whistling the Giants’ Osi Umenyiora
for roughing the passer with a blow to the head – which, of course, he
didn’t do. Replays showed that as he was falling to the ground, rag doll
Rodgers bumped his head against another player. Not Osi’s fault!
Rodgers had overthrown his receiver, so it would have been fourth down,
forcing Green Bay to punt. Instead, they got a new set of downs, and,
once again, the officials’ gift resulted in another unearned, undeserved
If you take away the 14 points manufactured by
the officials and gifted to the Packers, the Giants’ defense actually
only gave up six points to the high-powered, much-vaunted, formerly
perfect-at-home Pack. What a shame that 20 points will be officially
charged against the Jints.
Still, no matter how much the officials
wanted to protect the league darlings, no amount of officiating help
could overcome eight dropped passes and three lost fumbles – although we
all know the real number of lost fumbles was four.
If I were a
Packers fan, I would be embarrassed by the performance of my team and
the officials. But, on the brighter side, Rodgers will have more time to
make “Discount Double-Check” commercials.
In summation, I wish I
could I dismiss these bad calls as ineptitude, as incompetence, as human
error; but these calls were so bad, so blatant, so obvious, so
black-and-white, that it’s hard not to question the motives behind them.
I would love to hear Bill Leavy try to defend his work and the
performance of his crew. Or, should I say, try to excuse it.