Sports fans have seen it over and over again. Game officials blowing calls that sometimes change the final outcome of a game. Last year in the playoffs the Detroit Lions got jobbed in Dallas on a play where a flag was thrown -- but then mysteriously picked up. No explanation. It just was. The following week the same Cowboys likely got screwed in Green Bay on a bad call. Again, no explanation, at least one that made sense.
A couple weeks ago this year we saw Michigan State lose a game in Nebraska on a call even Stevie Wonder could have got right. But not the officials. They blew it, and stuck to it.
Earlier tonight, something similar happened to the New England Patriots. Yes, they would go on to defeat Rex Ryan's Buffalo Bills -- what else is new -- but the play in question was inexcusable. Consider the scenario. Tom Brady rolls out and completes a pass to a receiver. Neither had gone out of bounds -- not even close -- and the receiver had a wide open field in front of him. He could easily scamper into the end zone for a touchdown. But no, a whistle had been blown. The play was stopped, and nobody seemed to know exactly why.
After the usual zebra huddle, it was finally explained the whistle had been inadvertent, as in uncalled for, as in incompetent, by one of the officials. Of course the offender was never pointed out. And that represents a double standard that needs to change.
Though the same holds true in every sport, for the sake of this argument let's limit it to football. Granted, the zebras are only human, and they'll make mistakes. But when they do, they should be held accountable.
After throwing a penalty flag, they've long had no problem with stating the reason and identifying the culprit. An example:
Number 58 offense.
Ten yard penalty.
The cameras will zoom in on #58. He has to take the walk of shame.
It used to be they wouldn't identify such a perp in college games. Perhaps it was because the illustrious educators of such, ahem, "student athletes" deemed their psyches too fragile at such an early age to be individually pointed out for a wrongdoing on the gridiron. It was just holding, offense, no player number. But that has changed, as well it should have. Hey, if the 20 going on 12 crowd of typical college football players want to bring attention to themselves with touchdown dances and the like, then they should be pointed out when they screw up as well. Let the cameras zoom in both ways.
But that didn't fix the bigger problem. Incompetent officials making outrageous calls, or non-calls. Even though replays have proven them obviously wrong, and the play has been -- incredibly -- reviewed by still other faceless people, they seem to have no accountability whatsoever. It was wrong -- they know it -- or should -- but they'll stick to it anyway. Like a murderous cop shooting an unarmed "person of interest" repeatedly in the back as they flee, or have already been tased and handcuffed -- it's outrageous. But like the blue crew, the refs and their bosses always circle their wagons to defend one of their own, regardless of his obvious guilt. It's wrong. Always has been. Yet it continues, despite the wrongful loss of games -- and even lives.
So here's what should happen. As an example, let's zero in on the boneheaded call in the Patriots/Bills game. After huddling, the other officials knew good and well which of their crew had blown that inadvertent whistle. But of course they would never identify him.
Football, and other sports for that matter, needs a new kind of official. A knowledgeable man, or woman, at every game that not only monitors the game from above, but is privy to all communications between officials, and has the authority -- and responsibility -- to not only call one out when he seriously screws up, but penalize him on the spot. Much like the on-field referee, this person would have a microphone that would broadcast their findings to the fans in attendance, and the TV viewers as well.
After further review, which really wasn't necessary in the first place, because it was obvious all along -- the final ruling is.......
Stupidity on the head linesman.
He is disqualified from the game and on indefinite suspension as of now. Bring in the alternate.
Let the cameras zoom in indeed on the bozo in stripes while he takes his own walk of shame off the field.
Do that a few times and all these boneheaded calls would stop.
The message to the refs would be loud and clear.
Don't throw a flag or blow a whistle until you're absolutely sure a foul has been committed. Trying to anticipate one is like spanking your puppy because you think it MIGHT pee in your shoe again. It isn't always so, and such behavior is certainly not righteous. You should and will be punished and held up to scorn if you commit any of these acts. Get it right or shut up and don't do anything. Let them play until you see an obvious infraction.
That only leaves one question. Where could we find 20 or so such Chief Officials that are knowledgeable enough to assume such duties rotating around the league at various games? Sure, even in non-bye weeks, there's only 16 games, but having a few alternates is a good idea. If one of THEM screws it up, they would be summarily executed at the 50 yard line. No pressure.
But yours truly knows where there's at least a couple dozen people that know everything about football. Every single rule.
Just look me up at the local watering hole on Sunday. The place will be chock full of folks holding Doctorates in Official Gridiron Science. Sometimes called DOGS for short. They'd gladly volunteer to travel the country and straighten out all those idiot zebras.
Just keep them away from any Detroit Lions game. They keep thinking the puddy-tats are going to win the Super Bowl every year. Methinks somewhere along the way they must have minored in Fords Ongoing Oblivious Losing Syndrome, perhaps another appropriate acronym.
But that's what the alternates are for. Like the immortal Hannibal/Banacek once said -- I love it when a plan comes together.......