Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Replay it Again Sam

After watching the end of last night’s Seattle-Green Bay affair at my favorite watering hole, Rick’s Café in Casablanca, I asked Carl, Rick’s right hand man, whether the game was honest. “Honest?” he repeated, “As honest as the day is long.”

To say the replacement refs have not been up to the level of their striking counterparts the first three games of the season is an understatement. But Monday night was a sight to behold on what still is, in the hearts of many, the NFL showcase game of the week.

In case you missed it, Seattle attempted the proverbial Hail Mary trailing 12 to 7 with 8 seconds remaining. Quarterback Russell Wilson heaved the ball some 60 yards where two of his players jockeyed for position amidst five Packers. The perfectly named Golden Tate pushed the defender in front of him away and leaped to catch the pigskin only to be out leapt by Packer safety M.D. Jennings who made the circus catch falling to the ground, while Tate still had one hand lamely clinging to the ball.

Two replacements stood over the pair looking befuddled, one signaling touchdown, the other making the correct call that the game was over with Green Bay the victor. No review. No discussion. No Mas. Final score: Seattle 14 Green Bay 12.

While my media hero Michael McCann makes a good point that these ne’er do well officials threaten the safety of the players, thus perhaps justifying legal action by the union to demand the league cough up the relative pennies to end the strike, much more is at stake here.

No less a rapscallion than Jimmy Connors said afterwards he no longer would bet on the NFL. Now that is a problem. Estimates vary, but it is safe to say the amount of gambling money flowing through the economy during an NFL season is in the billions of dollars. Recorded wagers in Las Vegas are about $650 million, with $90 million bet on the Super Bowl alone. And that’s legal bets, sure to be just a fraction of actual bets. If betting on an NFL game is like betting on a bout in the World Wrestling League, that free flow of money will soon be reduced to a trickle.

It’s time for the Commissioner to act for the good of gamblers everywhere.

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