If you have not seen the blown call in the New Orleans-LA Championship game, you have been living under a rock.  Essentially, New Orleans lost its chance to be in the Superbowl because of an egregious failure to call pass interference on the LA two-yard line.  The game was tied and it would have been first and goal at the two—game over. New Orleans has itself to blame. It should never have done what it did.

The game was tied, and New Orleans had the ball 1st and ten from LA 12 yard line.  LA had one time out and there was 1:58 left on the clock.  RUN THE DAMN BALL. New Orleans got cute just as Seattle did a few years ago in the Super Bowl and handed the Patriots a Super Bowl victory that they did not deserve.  Seattle could have easily run the ball in or at least taken two shots at it, but they went for the pass. And the pass was over the middle which is loaded with defensive backs in a small area.  One of the worst coaching decisions ever made and he paid a dear price. Malcolm Butler intercepted the ball and Brady had another ring. RUN THE DAMN BALL!

New Orleans could have run the ball three times.  LA would have used its time out after the first run and would have been powerless to stop the clock.  New Orleans could have bled 70 seconds off the clock which would have brought it down to about 45 seconds and kicked the field goal.  With no time outs and down by three, LA would have had no chance. And when you kick off, don’t kick it into the end zone. The clock starts when the ball is touched by the receiving team.  So bounce the ball down the middle making a player touch it and start the clock. Tick, tick, another 8 seconds evaporates,

 Now as long as you don’t have a meltdown, as the Patriots did in Miami, the game is out of reach.  LA gets the ball with about 30 seconds left and no time outs. No way—just don’t have a meltdown.

Instead, New Orleans got cute and tried a pass on first down.  If incomplete the clock stops on the incompletion. Now New Orleans runs the ball and LA uses its last time out.  There is about 1:50 on the clock. Now New Orleans is in a bind. It wants the first down to seal the game, but if it passes and it is incomplete, the clock stops again.  Tick. Tick. New Orleans now throws the pass that was heard round the world, leading to the blown call. Incomplete—no penalty. WE WAZ ROBBED.  New Orleans kicks the field goal, but LA has over a minute to do its thing.  A far cry from thirty seconds, had it played good football.

If I had been the offending official, I would have been praying that LA not score and then the blown call would not have mattered.  It was not to be. LA did score and went on to win, and the call lives in infamy. How is such a blown call made? I make no excuses because I have paid my dues in officiating, and I know very little about who does what in a football crew.  Still, this is what I learned. More is not better and close doesn’t count either. What on earth do I mean?

When I did basketball, it was usually a two-man crew.  Then we got into the three-man system. In officiating you are assigned your space to watch, and it only gets blurry when you get to your fellow officials’ space.  And that line is manned by two of you, or none of you, as the case may be. More eyes is not the answer. And how about close. Does the official with the closer view have the edge.  Not always!

In hockey I would be on the goal line and my fellow ref would be on the blue line.  I was three feet from the goalie and my fellow ref was about 60 feet away. I had from the blue line down to me.  If there was a pile up in front of the net, I would go behind the net to look through the net to see if a goal was scored.  Now how about calling the puck dead because the goal tender had it frozen. I am blind behind there, but it is my call to make.  Well, I figured that out in short order. Before each game I told my partner that I wanted help from him on that call. He is looking right down in there and can make that call far easier than I could—so close is not necessarily the key.

Many have screamed that all calls are to be reviewed in the last two minutes—but judgement calls—even if it was terrible judgement?  Do we review balls and strikes? The block charge in basketball.? It becomes a slippery slope.

I know that one of the officials was assigned to that sideline in that infamous football game in New Orleans.  It was one person’s call to make. I hope he picks up the player and not the ball—but it is easy to “ball watch” in officiating.  But I hope he had help from some other ref, because, some things are better seen from afar. I could see a ref following the ball in that case and simply missing the timing.  A ref from some distance could see it much better, but at least I would know I had “help”.

My guess is that the official assigned to that sideline got caught watching the ball and not the player.  If he had help, it did not arrive. But I have been there. A call I will never forget in hockey. Not my call mind you, but my fellow official.  The player caught a pass fifteen feet offside. I saw it from sixty feet, as did the world. Given an ill-deserved lease on life the, player fired a dot into the top corner.  WANT TO GET AWAY? It happens. If he had not scored, I could have blown it dead but the error was made and he scored in one second. If I had to do that play again, I would have ruled no goal and simply taken the hit.  But remember that was not my area to call, now was it in the fuzzy zone. I would have made my partner look bad.

The game ended soon after and the High School coach who had coached a million games, hollered to me:

“You blew that one Bob.”  Let me tell you something.  If you want to look good dancing, pick a good partner.

Market Report

The stock market had retrieved half its losses since the fall.  Is it enough: Trump boxed himself into a box canyon with his shutdown and he will never get over it.  The Democrats, who finally had a chance to look good—did not. The offer made to Trump was insulting. It was less than that given to him before the shutdown—and that was stupid.  Nancy, learn how to win, She never has and never will. Trump, thoroughly beaten by the democrats lives another day. Trump is either going to be the worst president ever or the best—and I don’t know.