Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Clearing My Desk"

During the course of my checkered career that has taken me through such diverse avenues of commerce as the newspaper business, supermarketing and brand creation and marketing, I've encountered my share of corporate bullies along the way. You know the type: "We will mold you to conform to our way of thinking". With this as a backdrop, I've come to truly appreciate seeing a corporate bully get a black eye every once in a while as the NFL has this week.

The NFL has become such a heavy-handed organization over the years that I swear everybody connected with it drags their knuckles along the ground as they walk. Whether it be their "uniform police" or the unbelievable penchant for leveling fines for daring to touch a quarterback, the NFL reeks of "controlism" as in "We will eventually control every night of the week someday, not just the present Monday night, Thursday night, Saturdays (after the college season) Sundays and Sunday nights. "You vill watch football always. You vill enjoy it."

(above) Zebras converge Sunday night at Heinz Field to discuss Polamalu touchdown. Zebras enjoy natural turf , thus the explanation for the Steelers keeping an all-naturale surface, (they WANT the zebras to like it here and to subconsciously LIKE US) ! Unfortunately for Steeler fans, they got it wrong this time.

In that vein it was delightful to see these control freaks look totally out of control on Sunday evening at around 7:10 p.m... It was at that moment when the NFL's vaunted part-time officials, aided by their tool of infallibility, instant replay, still managed to botch a call involving Troy Polamalu that ended up with the Steelers scoring a touchdown that wasn't (but really was) on the last play of the game. Your Steelers didn't need said touchdown to win, but their fans in the betting public did because they were laying five points. So Steeler fans lost a collective $33,000,000 to their local bookie because the NFL couldn't get it right...even when going under "the hood".

Call me jaded, but a big part of me says that these people actually got what they had coming to them. Not that they deserved to lose, but that the very act of betting is reliant on so many unforeseen circumstances that luck, much more than skill, usually determines the winner. If you want to entrust your money to the NFL refs who called 13 penalties on the Steelers to the Chargers two, then you have a lot more faith in the integrity of mankind than I do.

It's easy to see how people would be upset losing their hard-earned cash because the dozen and a half refs who worked the game can't understand the rule book, but do you think the league would offer to cover the losses of those who were robbed by their incompetence? Don't hold your breath on that! Think about how many loyal NFL fans are going around today muttering about the "no good refs". Does the NFL worry that this could be a very bad situation for the league's image? Of course not, because the NFL has always acted as though betting doesn't even exist.

Yes it seems inconceivable that with all the safeguards already in place; a gaggle of zebras, trucks full of instant replay equipment, even the vaunted hood itself, that the "No F'__ing Luck League" would make the following pronouncement: We're going to look into possibly adding another safeguard into the instant replay system to prevent this kind of mistake from ever happening again."

Hey that's great. I know I feel better already. But then again, I don't bet, and after last week's fiasco, don't expect me to start anytime soon. If you watch a football game without worrying about the point spread or how your fantasy team is doing, you'll be able to enjoy the game a whole lot more. At the very least, you'll have a lot less anxiety.