The 2012 NFL season* is no longer just the 2012 NFL season.
It’s now the 2012 NFL season*, complete with an asterisk to denote the fact that a reasonable percentage of the games (three weeks worth up to now) can’t possibly be considered “legitimate” by anyone who has watched it all unfold since September 9.
Three weeks into the season, the Ravens are 2-1*.
Their record isn’t on the up and up. They could be 3-0*. Or 1-2*.
The same goes with virtually every other team in the NFL, but I’m citing the Ravens, here, because they’re the only team I care about. But the other 31 teams are in the same boat as the Ravens. They’ve been victimized by the replacement referees. Or helped by the replacement referees. Teams in their division have WON games because of shoddy officiating or LOST games because of it.
Last night’s debacle in Seattle (2-1*) cost the now 1-2* Packers a football game. It might cost them the playoffs. Or the Super Bowl. It might make a playoff team out of the Seahawks, for example, who could somehow wind up with the same record as Green Bay at season’s end.
Nothing about the first three weeks of the season can possibly be considered “legitimate”.
Look no further than what happened to the Redskins at the end of their loss to the Bengals on Sunday. A gross mis-application of the rules by the replacements might have cost Washington a chance to tie the game.
If it happened in Washington, it happened in San Diego, Dallas, Miami and Baltimore on Sunday.
It has happened just about everywhere over the last three weeks.
And that’s why the standings and all results in 2012 should be denoted with an *. Dream with me for a minute on this one…let’s say the Steelers are found guilty of wire-tapping the visitor’s locker room at Heinz Field. We’ll pretend that happens in week #13 of the 2012 season. What would your response to that be, I wonder? I know what I would say. “Either just make them forfeit all home games they won or put some sort of asterisk next to their record and make sure history notes they were caught cheating in mid-season.”
We’d all expect something like that, right?
Well, history should note that none of the games in the first three weeks (and four, five, six, etc. if these replacement officials continue on past this weekend) of 2012 were “legit”.
It’s not professional wrestling, but it’s awfully close.
I basically predicted the entire final two minutes about five minutes before it happened on Sunday night from the confines of the press box at M&T Bank Stadium. “The refs will throw a late flag or two to put the Ravens in field goal position and they’ll kick the game-winner at the buzzer,” I told both Nestor and Luke.
Now, let’s be fair and acknowledge that the late pass interference call on New England — the one that basically set up the Tucker 27-yarder to win it — was a good call. It was. But others on the drive before, where the Ravens scored a TD to make it 30-28, were absolutely horrible.
I couldn’t have come up with coup de grace, the game-ending field goal that just snuck (maybe) inside the right upright to give Baltimore the improbable home win.
Even with my wildest creative juices flowing, I wouldn’t have added the final stab of insult to the whole night by making the final kick so close that it actually might be questionable as to whether or not it was good.
I’ve watched it 15 times now and I’m not 100% sure it was good. In fact, if the refs called it “good”, that tells me there’s a solid chance it wasn’t. But I don’t care about that, really, because win or lose on Sunday against the Patriots, the Ravens are officially part of a 2012 season* that should be noted with an asterisk.
None of the games should count.
The season shouldn’t count.
The NFL has done the unthinkable.
They’ve f**ked up the best league in America.