You do have to appreciate that the officiating crew on the league’s Sunday Night game, supposedly the marquee matchup of the week where the entire NFL world tunes in, was able to pack in so much moron-acy into one final drive. The density of clueless officiating in the last minute of Chiefs-Packers was not all that different than a black hole.
Is the NFL scripted? The Chiefs-Packers game made it seem like it
First, there was this on Patrick Mahomes, though you can understand why refs have such a hard-on to call penalties on the quarterback because that’s the way the league wants it:
You can see how the trigger works here. Quarterback takes a huge hit when clearly heading toward out of bounds, every ref knows that’s exactly what the league doesn’t want, flag comes out. Though, it is in the job description to see where Mahomes’s feet actually are. And maybe a touch of awareness that the first down marker was right there and it was kind of a big deal if he got there or not. But I’ve been called greedy in the past.
Then there was the pass to Marques Valdes-Scantling, where he was clearly going backwards when going out of bounds, which means he was stopped in bounds, which meant the clock should keep rolling. There’s not a caveat to this one.
Don’t worry, the Packers got their make-em-even call:
The back judge is no more than 10 feet from this. You couldn’t place a drone any better. This is the good stuff.
Once again, as most soccer fans have found out, more video review and more cameras really aren’t the answer. The answer is having refs who aren’t afraid of making the right call at the right time even if the game pivots on it. No amount of technology is going to grow anyone’s tires to do what their job says.
But in the end, one has to wonder if the NFL really cares. Or do they love the debate that will rage on all the morning screamo shows this morning? How Chiefs fans will rage long into the night? The connections back to last year’s Super Bowl.
When the NFL perceives a problem, look at how quickly it snuffs it out. Celebrations it didn’t like were gone in one offseason. They’ll remove the Brotherly Shove soon enough. Horse-collar tackles, hits to defenseless receivers, next up the hip-drop (which we used to call a suplex). They’ll change soon enough.
And yet NFL refs aren’t full-time. Most of them have other jobs during the week, time that could be spent reviewing their performance from Sunday and learning what’s next. Doesn’t seem to be on the radar. Would cost owners more money that they’ll never notice.
NFL players are bigger and faster than ever. And while refs are certainly in better shape than they used to be and probably a little younger, doesn’t feel like they’re keeping up at the same rate to react to plays that are happening in less time than ever before. It’s a little like MLB umps, who are being asked to call balls and strikes on the nastiest stuff in history. It’s just not a doable task.
Us yelling at each other might be exactly what the league wants. Well, it gets it.
Bend it like physics
Let’s end on good sports stuff. Hakan Çalhanoǧlu opened the scoring in their ass-kicking of Napoli in Naples Sunday, and you can’t open it better than this:
The last replay is the choice, as it shows that Çalhanoǧlu caught those so sweetly that it never actually hits the ground, but rises due to spin and velocity and violence and swagger in a way that we know fastballs don’t actually. This is bending physics to your desire.
And some more absurdity
And then on the hockey side, the L.A. Kings spent the third period kicking the Avalanche up and down the ice like a nerf football, capped off by this silliness from Trevor Lewis:
Banking one off the goalie’s head feels so big brother picking on little brother. Very impolite.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky @felsgate.bsky.social