After another egregious blown call, is it time to boycott the NFL?
There was no way the Saints would lose another heartbreaking game after a furious fourth quarter comeback, right? Right?
This time, New Orleans’ 23-21 defeat at the hands of the 8-2, AFC-leading Tennessee Titans came with an infuriating twist: the refs blew this one. One crucial call late in the second half was, at the very least, a major factor in the Saints’ downfall.
With the game tied at 6 and the Titans driving into the red zone with 1:55 left in the first half, Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill threw an interception to Marcus Williams in the back of the end zone…that would shortly be nullified by a roughing the passer call on linebacker Kaden Elliss.
Elliss’ hands grazed the back of Tannehill’s nameplate as he was shoved to the ground milliseconds after releasing the ball, and for some reason, this was enough for Jerome Boger’s crew to enforce a personal foul that would give the Titans new life. They scored a touchdown a few plays later and never relinquished the lead.
Kicker Brian Johnson also missed two extra points, which was perhaps just as much of a factor in the loss, but the lost INT killed the Saints’ momentum and turned the tide of the game, effecting a seven-point swing the Saints never recovered from.
For a fan base forever reeling from the NOLA No-Call, the single worst officiating moment in the history of professional football, Elliss’ phantom roughing penalty was undoubtedly an acid flashback of the worst kind.
Nearly three years after that awful moment, NFL officiating has (finally) found itself in the cross-hairs of fans, the media and TV crews alike after a rash of dubious taunting fouls. It has also recently come to light that Sean Payton left the NFL’s competition committee under mysterious circumstances, and he was tight-lipped when asked about Elliss’ penalty after the Titans game.
But then, on a Thursday morning appearance on The Dan Patrick Show, Payton said everyone involved with the league “deserves better,” and that taunting fouls, a point of emphasis for the league in 2021, are being “over-officiated.” This is probably the closest we’ll ever get to Payton publicly shaming the league for its embarrassing officiating issues.
There are a myriad of things the league can do to make sure refs know what the fuck they’re doing, including but not limited to: hiring and training full-time referees that aren’t a million years old; placing a “sky judge” in the booth who can overrule calls on the field if something is missed; establishing a replay center like the NBA’s Secaucus facility; and penalizing officials who make egregious errors.
The NFL, of course, will never do any of this because there is no motivation for them to do so. Saying mean things about the league, Roger Goodell and his officials means nothing because they’re sitting on a pile of money. The commish doesn’t care that the product is tainted because it doesn’t matter – people watch the games anyway.
So, what can we, the fans, do? It’s simple really, but maybe not a fun pill to swallow.
Don’t buy concessions. Don’t buy officially licensed apparel. Don’t Tweet about the league.
Don’t go to games. Don’t watch the games. Posture like you don’t care anymore.
It sounds crazy and a lot of fans, particularly Saints fans, probably can’t stomach the idea of missing any action. But causing that Scrooge McDuck room full of NFL gold vanish is one of the few things that’ll make Goodell and his shadowy cabal of owners notice.
It sounded crazy in early 2019 when there was talk of the New Orleans TV market boycotting the Super Bowl after the No-Call. But then you know what? The city didn’t watch, and those precious ratings went down like Ryan Tannehill after getting tapped on the back of his jersey.