The No-Call: The Saints and the call that wasn’t made
By Tony Twillie
Why it stinks, and looking from angles
One can understand a bang-bang play being missed. One might even understand missing one of two major infractions on that one play. But to so completely whiff on that entire call is criminal. It was too obvious. And for the naysayers, the ones who think it was too close and maybe the official didn’t see it or he had the sun in his eyes or something? Al Riveron, Senior Vice-President of Officiating for the NFL, spoke to Sean Payton immediately after the game and said they missed it and they were sorry.
Seriously? That’s what you get for not going to the Super Bowl? Mea culpa? We for certain screwed you out of going to the biggest game of the season, and potentially out of winning the last game of the NFL year, the most important game of the season. We’ve changed the overall destiny and legacy of your team and we’re sorry we got it wrong?
Let’s examine different angles. First we’ll speak about the two conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theory number one, too many officials on the squad were from California. It is appreciated that this is an “all-star” squad of officials and this wasn’t Bill Vinovich’s regular crew.
There is no issue whatsoever in rewarding the better officials with high profile games. But these are the BETTER officials? Also, for the playoff games, to avoid a least what might be a small look of impropriety, how about NOT having an officiating crew with FOUR members from California on it. Referee Bill Vinovich and 3 others are from Southern California.
One of the officials’ former roommate actually played for the Rams. There is an expectation of impartiality placed on the officials. That expectation can be called into question when you have potentially partial officials not calling such an impactful penalty.
The other conspiracy theory revolves around the teams themselves. The Saints have become something of a lovable team around the country over the years since Hurricane Katrina. We’ve been the underdog that a lot of people enjoy backing. That plays well for feel-good stories but not necessarily in the halls of power.
There has not been a real fan base for NFL football in Los Angeles for years. When the Rams left town, there was no major upheaval of emotion. People just went to the next thing. It’s a city of transplants and a city with numerous diversions outside of the NFL.
But for the number two media market in the country to not have a team troubled the NFL. There was a need to bring a team back there. As such, there are a lot of conspiracy theorists that feel strongly that the NFL wanted to lean towards that city being in the Super Bowl.
Get more fans into the team, they are building a new stadium. Similar to the way they give Super Bowls to cities that build new stadiums, give the Rams a shot at glory to help boost them. And it makes sense that the league and the networks would prefer two top 10 media markets in the Super Bowl, Los Angeles and Boston/New England, over two markets much farther down the line. Even with the two top contenders for the NFL MVP playing, the Chiefs and Saints were not the matchup the NFL nor CBS wanted.
Personally, I’m not a conspiracy theorist so I can’t buy into those things, though when events unfold as they did, it’s exceedingly difficult not to think something was amiss.