After all, a TV show is another TV show

MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

The legitimacy of #NFLTheTVShow has never been so far in doubt.

What other conclusions are there to come to for even the most blindly faithful of the National Football League, given the absolutely horrible and inexcusable officiating that helps determine direct outcomes of games week in and week out?

To reiterate, I have long believed something has been rotten in Denmark (or is it Denver?) for perhaps longer than has likely been feasible to do so. Call it young cynicism if you must.

However, never once have I questioned the honest effort or integrity of a single player (although two would still come quite easily) through my decades-long doubt, because it is the players who dedicate their lives, their bodies and their minds to becoming NFL players. Then it is the players who are pushed aside like product at Fisherman’s Wharf when the expiration date comes up on their bodies, their neurology and their usefulness to the owners and to their teams.

Yet something is still rotten in Denmark and it’s become fishier and fishier each week for even the most diehard believers in this league to find themselves waiting for something to come out of the sky from Big Brother to affect an outcome that works against any team that is deemed to be an inconvenience.

Take the Washington Commanders two weeks ago in their Sunday Night Football game against the New York Giants. The Commanders, at the top of their game at the time and making a legitimate push for the playoffs, are, of course, owned by Daniel Snyder, who, despite his vast wealth, has become the largest pain in the arse imaginable to the NFL and his fellow owners and partners (wink, wink).

Given all Snyder has done to destroy the NFL team in our nation’s capital (well, not really in our nation’s capital, which is also part of the problem) and the mud he has dragged the league through, do you think for a moment his brothers in ownership and on Park Avenue want to see his team and his diminutive self on the worldwide stage of the NFL playoffs before they can push him out of the league with the sale of the franchise?

Maybe they really have no feelings on the matter. Most likely, they really do.

The Commanders were absolutely robbed by the officials in the final moments of that Sunday Night football game against the NFC team from the New York area, which, incidentally, was and is fighting for the same playoff berth.

The fishiness actually began in the third quarter when a bogus illegal-pick penalty was called on Washington that almost had former All-Pro receiver Cris Collinsworth jumping out of the NBC broadcast booth because it was such a bad call.

Then in the fourth quarter, running back Brian Robinson had a one-yard touchdown run erased after an illegal formation call against receiver Terry McLaurin. Adding insult to rotten was McLaurin appearing to confirm with the official, who seconds later would throw the flag, that he was lined up legally before the snap.

Two plays later, in the waning moments of the game, on an incomplete pass into the end zone on fourth-and-6 intended for Commanders receiver Curtis Samuel. Giants cornerback Danny Holmes had his arm draped across Samuel’s upper-body on the play, but no flag was thrown and New York was able to kneel out the game to seal a 20–12 win.

Though no flag was thrown, the league told the Commanders afterward officials should have called pass interference on the play, which I’m sure made everybody outside of New York and New Jersey feel so much better, eh?

But that’s any game anymore, truthfully. The Commanders just got theirs on a nationally-televised platform at a critical time of a crucial league game.

During last Saturday afternoon’s Falcons-Ravens game in Baltimore, the poor Falcons head coach Arthur Smith nearly lost his mind and deserved to do so in front of God and country, given the job the officials were doing on his team. Every call in the game seemingly went against Atlanta and in Baltimore’s favor, and most of those calls presented the apparent illusion of their being really bad and indifferent on-purpose calls.

But, of course, as they say in Hollywood (and in important places, too), illusion is reality, so sometimes, two-plus-two really is four

Look, never mind all of the Hollywood stuff, the TV stuff (and we won’t even get into every professional sports league in America being in bed with gambling) that #NFLTheTVShow does through every game – the halftime shows beginning and the games ending at the same time for the purpose of programming, for instance?

The NFL’s biggest issue right now is officiating for the sake of its legitimacy and its integrity.

Or at least the illusion of its legitimacy and its integrity.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT