Hey, did you hear that joke about that time the NFL referee didn’t call an obvious pass interference against Los Angeles possibly because the back judge, Gary Cavaletta, is a resident of, wait for it, Los Angeles?
Yeah, let that one sink in for a bit.
Actually, according to Seth Dunlap of WWL, Todd Prukop is from Ladera Ranch, which is just south of L.A. but it gets ever better. The side judge, Gary Cavaletta, is from Santa Barbara, California which technically is not L.A. but it’s their market. To keep going, Patrick Turner, the side judge in the photograph watching Lewis get drilled is from Los Angeles County. Now guess how many officials were from New Orleans or even Louisiana? Zero.
So, three out of seven officials had ties to Los Angeles. Does that make you angry?
The NFL is garbage. It’s a garbage product that has been let to rot on the vine. The league is absolutely complacent in every facet of its business. Unless, of course, we’re talking about not paying concussion victims, or paying cheerleaders a living wage or the employment of Colin Kaepernick. Then, the NFL is freakishly aggressive.
Yet, for us, the ones paying their salaries, we’ll get nothing and like it. We will dole out hundreds of dollars to watch one game that has zero credibility. And then we’ll do it again and again and again.
A long time ago, almost a decade I guess, I realized how dumb I was to let sports affect my days, emotions – you know the deal. I was watching every single game and reading every single story. I was, what doctors would call, an addict. Then, one day, I was sitting alone in a bar watching the game and it just hit me. Why?
I actually laughed to myself, paid my tab and walked out. I made no major announcement of newly found liberty from everything sport-related it was just a subtle transition. Instead of watching all of the games, I would just turn on the end of games. If my team lost, so be it. If anything fun or interesting were going on in real life I would skip the game entirely. It’s funny, even doing that, one still absorbs a ton of sports.
After Sunday, I may have to take it one step further back from the NFL. It’s just not fun to have a game yanked out from underneath you because Roger Goodell, who is paid $30 million a year, can’t figure out how to field an honest product.
It wasn’t just that one missed call.
Hell, on that very same play, the Rams defender led with his helmet wiping out Tommylee Lewis. One play, two penalties, zero flags. That’s how bad it was. With such an egregious amount of ineptitude crystallized in that one moment it’s easy to forget just how badly the entire game was called.
No, it’s not. There was the helmet-to-helmet hit on Josh Hill that put him out of the game with a concussion. There was Drew Brees, I believe in the third quarter, getting launched by two defenders well after the pass was away (which is even more maddening after you see Tom Brady get a roughing the passer call where he’s barely touched). There was a blatant holding on a blitzing Eli Apple and multiple times L.A. defenders manhandled receivers without a flag thrown. Then there was the interception in overtime where Brees not only got clubbed in the head by the Rams’ Dante Fowler (which has been called roughing the passer this year) but some photos seem to show he grabbed Brees’ facemask as well.
Now, with that said, I remember at least two face masks not being called against the Saints and I swear it seemed like they let the play clock expire a couple of times without penalty. Possibly because the vibe was already set. This game was a shitshow.
Still Could Have Won
Even if they had called interference doesn’t mean the Saints would be dancing into Atlanta in two weeks. The offense continued to struggle, as it has down the stretch, and could not capitalize on a crucial interception early. After dominating the first quarter (going up 13-0) the game quickly tightened up due to a lack of offense. In short, the offense has been figured out by defenses. After a scorched earth campaign that saw the Saints rocket out to a 10-1 record with an offense averaging 37.2 per game, the club stumbled down the stretch in their last seven games, only averaging 19.7 points per game.
On Sunday, even as everyone keeps talking about how aggressive Coach Payton’s play calling can be, he elected to kneel at the end of both halves instead of taking shots down the field. Odd choice, especially in the first half when the team had 19 seconds and one timeout left. They would also let the clock run out on the fourth quarter.
On the other hand, right after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter with the Saints in field goal range, the team, instead of running the ball to force L.A. to spend their timeouts, threw an incomplete pass to Michael Thomas. The Saints followed that misfire with a timeout and then gave Alvin Kamara the ball for no gain. The drive absolutely collapsed when they could have put the Rams away.
Then, after Kamara’s run, was what has become the most infamous non-call of them all, the play that could have changed everything.
It was a brutal Sunday.
The refs blew it.
The Saints blew it.
Or, maybe it was just a fix.
Anyway, the L.A. Rams (second largest media market, where football has always failed) will take on the New England Patriots (NFL darlings and ninth largest media market) in the Super Bowl. I won’t be watching.
The 2019 NFL season kicks off Sept. 5 and, even with everything I’ve said, I’ll be watching and cheering on the beloved New Orleans Saints.