Monday, February 06, 2006

NFL Names Rooney Family 2006 Champions

The first four words of the New York Times headline says it all: "Calls hurt the Seahawks..."

When referees are mentioned in a SuperBowl headline, you know you have a problem.

ABC's cameras produced enough evidence to overturn three key calls, which translated into two non-touchdowns for the Seahawks.

On the first, Hasselbeck found Darrell ("D-Jack") Jackson in the end zone on a slant. Jackson and free safety Chris Hope separated from each other after minimal contact. Back judge Bob Waggoner flagged Jackson, but replays clearly showed there was no push-off. Watching the replay, analyst John Madden said, "When you think of pushoffs, that's not what you think about, really."

And at halftime, studio analyst Steve Young was more emphatic: "That is a touchdown ... that is an absolute mistake." Michael Irvin noted, "It was a ticky-tack foul."

On another drive, Hasselbeck found Jerramy Stevens at the goal line; he made a great catch in heavy traffic. But, wait, a flag! Offensive holding had been called on RT Sean Locklear. Replays clearly showed there was no holding, no grabbing, nada.

Madden chimed in again, indicating that this too was a phantom penalty.

How about another blatant officiating gaffe? Late in the game, Seattle needed to stop Pittsburgh to get the ball back -- they were down 11. On third and six at his own 24, Steeler QB Roethlisberger called a timeout a second after the play clock ran out (replays showed this as well). Ah, but a timeout was granted by head ref Leavy, instead.

I won't even mention the phantom Steeler TD that didn't cross the goal line. And was initially spotted by the linesman short of the goal line. Until it was mysteriously, ex post spotto , ruled a TD.

And I won't bother to discuss the Hasselbeck tackle that resulted in a "blocking below the knees" penalty -- a 15-yarder personal foul -- and one that doesn't even exist in any rulebook known to professional football.

Next time, NFL, just award the Rooney family the trophy before the game. That will save us the hassle of actually watching the game when it's long since been decided in the halls of power.

Update: the NFL is defending this incompetent crew, claiming "no mistakes" were made. Not only were mistakes made, but they were discernible by announcers, analysts, and millions of viewers worldwide.

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