Monday, October 26, 2009

Stop Yer Bitchin'--You Lost!!!

Last night at work, while still basking in the afterglow of the Steelers' glorious victory over the Vikings, I ran across this article, Vikings Gave This One Away, in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The writer, Sid Hartman, claims that the Purple Poopy Eaters (Poohbutt's term--not mine) could've won the game if it hadn't been for their numerous errors. Well, duh.

The Vikes did commit a lot of penalties and did lose two turnovers at the end of the game that the defense converted into touchdowns. But they did not "give" the game away. It's a nice premise--one all us fans rely on--but it simply did not happen. In fact, I would argue that it never does.

In that same game, the Steelers also made errors that could've cost them the game. Kicker Jeff Reed decided to poussé push returner Percy Harvin, allowing the much bigger, stronger man to scamper 88 yards to the end zone, and Rashard Mendenhall fumbled on the Vikings three yard-line when the Steelers were marching to put the game away.

The point being, good teams not only make errors during games, but they also cause their opponents to make errors themselves. Brett Favre fumbled the ball because he was stripped of the ball. He threw the game-winning interception because the pass rush made him rush his own pass, Chester Taylor wasn't ready, the ball bounced out of his hands into Keyaron Fox's, who rumbled into the end zone.

These "errors" were forced errors created by a good team. They weren't given, they were taken. Much like hard work can create good luck, "errors" are created by good teams. That's what makes them good. That's what makes them winners. The Vikings didn't give the game away. It was taken from them.

Hartman's "analysis" was annoying enough, but what really got my goat was the comments section, where the Vikings loyalists proceeded to whip the biggest scapegoat in all of sports: the refs.

Now look, every time one's team loses, the first blame almost always goes to the referees. We fans generally just can't believe our team lost--can't fathom that they might just actually suck and got what they deserve. So, we are always pointing to the refs as the key difference. We fans are like any other delusional psychotic--we would all succeed if the world just weren't against us. That world being the men (and one day women) in the zebra outfits.

It is true that the Vikings' being called for defensive delay of game was about as confounding as interpretive dance, and the tripping call that negated that Vikings' TD was specious at best. But these Vikings fans chose to forget that the Steelers also had a TD called back on an offensive pass interference call on Heath Miller who was chucked into another defensive player on the other side of the field from where the TD pass was thrown!

Those negated touchdowns were both bad calls. In fact, they actually negated each other--which rarely happens in sports. It wasn't the refs' fault that the former led to a Vikings' turnover and Steelers TD and the latter resulted in a Steelers' field goal.

Bad calls are a part of the game. So are good calls. As well as no-calls. It is hard to believe that, with 22 testosterone- and adrenaline-charged pituitary cases charging and crashing into each other, there isn't a penalty occurring on every, single play. Whether they're called or not shouldn't matter. A team's charge is to win the game--no matter what the referees are doing.

Look, we NFL fans are lucky that our refereeing isn't as horrid as the NBA's--where a foul is only called if a player doesn't have enough outside endorsements. Allen Iverson's dribbling motion is the exact motion for the carrying call. Yet, he has probably never been called for palming the ball, which he does every damned time he touches the ball. Last year, I watched LeBron James pick up the ball and take three, friggin' steps to slam the ball home (for those who don't know, you're only allowed one and a half). Centers used to be called for fouls for having their faces impede the progress of Shaq's elbow every time he went up to dunk.

Last year, I briefly tried watching the Lakers/Nuggets playoffs. Then I saw three defenders get out of Kobe's way and let him drive the lane in order to avoid the inevitable foul (I guess he inherited the benefits of the "thinking-about-fouling-Jordan" foul). The last time I checked, unless the guy hits a home run, your job as a defender is to stop a rapist bastard from scoring! When the announcers started screaming orgasmic about what a phenomenal athlete Kobe was, I turned the TV off in disgust. Shit, even I can score if the other team lets me.

We football fans don't have to put up with such bullshit. And neither do NFL players. Sure, they get bad calls against them, but they also get good ones that benefit them. And they probably don't get called for half the crap they pull on the field.

I'm not a referee apologist, but it's not as though these guys have an easy job chasing all these genetic freaks around on the field. Then they've got the fans, announcers, sports "pundits" (how the hell do you get that job?), and instant replay second-guessing their every move. Of course, they're gonna make mistakes. They're human. But stop acting like making a phantom call is the same as invading a country for their phantom WMD!

Teams know what they're getting into whenever they enter any game. They know that referees can blow calls. They're job is to win no matter. It doesn't matter to them. It shouldn't matter to us. We fans--all of us--need to get over our "Magic Bullet" referee conspiracy theories and just realize our teams generally lose because they faced a better team.

Of course, I'm probably just saying this because my team won yesterday. And back in February, my team won the Super Bowl. Oh yeah, and in my lifetime, they have won six of them bad boys.

So, actually, what I guess I'm just saying is ...


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