MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports­­

It’s gone so far beyond absurd. It’s gone to the market and straight to the cuckoo-for-Cocoa Puffs aisle.

The NFL made Kansas City Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce date Taylor Swift (yeah, I’m sure they had to really twist his arm) in order to rig the Super Bowl so the Chiefs win, and while Swift is hugging and kissing her boyfriend on the field after the game, rather than screaming, “We’re going to Disney World!” she screams, “We endorse Joe Biden!”?

So … there’s only one flaw with this theory (yeah, only one):

Who does NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell work for?

NFL owners.

Who has the final say in all NFL business matters?

NFL owners.

Who are NFL owners?

Really, really rich guys who don’t like to be taxed (who does?).

So the numbskulls who are pushing this really believe a bunch of really, really rich guys who don’t like to be taxed are going to sign off on a plan to get Joe Biden reelected?

I don’t think so.

Now, don’t misunderstand. I have never been one to go to the mat for the NFL’s integrity, because the NFL has no integrity. And I did say here last week I truly believe the NFL wanted Taylor Swift at the Super Bowl. But I’m pretty sure that has more to do with her, by merely showing up, having generated an equivalent $330 million of brand value for the Chiefs and the NFL and helping #NFLTheTVShow to the highest regular-season viewership it has ever had among women.

Clearly I have no proof or, for that matter, any rock-solid belief that anything took place Sunday in Baltimore, though the Shawn Smith officiating crew certainly produced to its track record and reputation for being poison to favored teams and to home teams — home teams being flagged 31% more, roughing the passer on the home team being called 71% more, home teams winning only 40% of the time and the favored teams going 17-30-3 against the spread.

Uh, we all saw what happened on Sunday in that regard but, again, I found the officiating to be more conspicuous by what was not called as opposed to what penalties were called.

That said, let’s give the Baltimore Ravens credit for their part in the outcome of the game, as they were surely the major contributors. The Ravens just flat-out stank on Sunday, and the timing for it couldn’t have been worse for them. Then again, there is a track record for this as well.

The Ravens never trailed by more than 10 points in the 17-10 loss in this AFC championship game, yet they played from the beginning as though they were down by 30.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson is being blamed for everything after his performance, and it was not a good performance at all. Then again, the Ravens coaching staff didn’t do anything to allow him to perform up to his sensational standards, beginning with the abandonment of the (and his) running game.

The Ravens, who produced the NFL’s top rushing attack in the regular season — averaging 163.8 yards per game — were 11-1 this season when their running backs touched the ball at least 20 times and 3-4 when they had less than 20 touches. On Sunday, Ravens running backs touched the ball six times and the Ravens rushed the ball 16 times overall against a team that gave up 4.5 yards per rushing attempt this season.

The Ravens failed to utilize play-action against the Chiefs, who struggled to defend it this year, running it only three times in the first half and four times in the third quarter. In the end, Jackson was 5-for-9 for 113 yards and a touchdown on play-action.

During the regular season, 55% of the Ravens’ plays were designed runs or play-action. On Sunday, it was just 34%.

To be clear, if I am looking for take-this-to-the-bank information and results, I trust no entity that has a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license for entertainment, which the NFL has, rather than one for news or for sports.

So while I am perfectly certain Travis Kelce had a great deal to do with the outcome of Sunday’s AFC championship game, despite her presence at the Super Bowl having been long desired by the greedy NFL, I do not believe Taylor Swift or, for that matter, Joe Biden had anything to do with the outcome of Sunday’s game.

In my view, the onus of that falls on ‘dem Bawlmer Ravens, hon.

And speaking of hon … Angelos? Selling? Be still our tender hearts.

The beer could be very, very cold very, very soon.

God bless Chuck Thompson.

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]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT