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Scoot: Future of NFL is at stake after no-call in Saints game

Scoot
January 22, 2019 - 10:16 am

The blatant no-call late in the 4th quarter of the Saints - Rams NFC Championship game Sunday in New Orleans is not the first mistake made by NFL officials that has raised suspicion about the integrity of the league, but it should be the last.

With less than 2:00 to play and the score tied 20 - 20, an official’s failure to call one of the most obvious pass interference infractions in NFL history opened the door to questions about the ultimate legitimacy of the NFL.  There were over 70,000 eyewitnesses and millions of others watching live coverage of the game.  To many, even Rams fans, the official missed a call so flagrant that it was impossible to not think there was a plan to lead the Los Angeles Rams into the Super Bowl in Atlanta.

While missed calls, wrong calls and no-calls have been part of the human factor of the game, the impact that the no-call toward the end of the Saints - Rams game and the impact it had on which team was most likely to advance to the Super Bowl has put the spotlight on something the NFL has been able to push aside for years.

And there are enough reasons to believe that the NFL had a vested interest in the Rams getting to the Super Bowl over the Saints.  Los Angeles is the nation’s 2nd largest market; and with a new stadium being built, the NFL team in that market needs something to promote excitement for the team.  Plus, the humiliation of the New Orleans Saints playing in the Super Bowl in the new home stadium of the arch-rival Atlanta Falcons could be a factor in the NFL’s interest in doing what can be done to make certain it was the Rams and not the Saints that move onto Atlanta.

The painful possibility of the deck being stacked against the Saints fits a past narrative that the success of the Saints and one of the NFL’s smaller markets, is simply not advantageous to the NFL as a league.  The notion that the NFL has ways of favoring one team over another resurrects memories of the DNC’s favoritism of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.  And we all know how that worked out for the Democrats.

The question of whether the NFL is equally fair to all teams is so serious that it has the ability to shake the foundation of the league’s multi-billion dollar industry.  If it is learned through factual evidence, or circumstantial evidence so strong that it cannot be ignored, that the NFL plays favorites and indeed preferred the team from Los Angeles rather than the team from New Orleans going to the Super Bowl, then every NFL fan loses faith in the key officiating decisions that often determine the outcome of games.

If favoritism in the NFL is proven or if the perception is strong enough to become reality, the growing impression that the league has become too greedy and too self-righteous will damage ratings and revenue beyond and past or current controversy.

How the NFL handles this controversy will determine whether the public accepts the NFL as a distributor of honesty or fraud.  The human factor and human judgment will always be part of sports, but there is a difference between an honest mistake and a calculated effort to determine a desired result.

 

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