Stop me if you’ve heard this before: an NFL team is on its way to a huge win when a goofy rule/blown call/dumb penalty costs said team the game. Always in the most infuriating way imaginable. Sounds familiar, right? Well, if it feels like we’re talking about asinine calls having an outside impact on who wins and loses every other week in the NFL, let me assure you, we are. This week’s disaster du jour befell the beyond terrible actually somewhat competitive Jets who, if we’re being honest, don’t need the league’s help in making their fans miserable.
In the play above Jets TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins appears to score a touchdown that would bring the underdog Jets in range for a shocking upset against their archnemesis Patriots. Naturally that’s not what happened. The touchdown was reviewed, as all touchdowns are, and not only was the score taken off the board but the ball was also awarded to the Patriots.
Seriously, what? We’re going to need to watch that video again.
Okay, so as he’s approaching and/or crossing the goal line, Seferian-Jenkins clearly loses the ball. He also, just as clearly, comes up with it after completing the catch.1 It’s what happens in the middle that sent Jets fans into hysteria. Since the call on the field was a touchdown, in order to overturn the call, referee there needed to be definitive proof that Seferian-Jenkins did not have possession of the ball when he went out of bounds. Definitive proof is exactly what the league’s officials determined that they had. So the Jets’ touchdown was wiped from the scoreboard and the ball was given to the Patriots at the 25 yard line.
Yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence attended an NFL national anthem performance in Indianapolis. Typically, this would imply that he watched the football game that followed but in this ridiculousstupidmaddening curious instance it does not. Because, as soon as the anthem – for which several visiting 49ers players kneeled – was over, Pence exited stage left and he did so with a purpose.
How the hell does something like this even happen? Well, the official story is that Pence, the former governor of Indiana, simply happens to be a devoted Colts fan attending a game that featured a ceremony to honor Colts icon Peyton Manning; upon seeing football players kneeling during the anthem, the vice president’s delicate sensibilities were so offended that he had to abruptly leave the game in protest. Of course, it would be hard not to notice that Pence chose to attend a game featuring a 49ers team that has consistently embraced the kneeling protest that their former quarterback Colin Kaepernick started, and also that Pence was able to release a pretty polished statement almost immediately after leaving the game. Along with some other info, this seems to indicate that this was a premeditated PR stunt. None of which addresses the fact that vice president is willfully misinterpreting the players’ protest: they’re not protesting the flag or the military, they’re protesting police brutality against African Americans, a fact not lost on the significant number of veterans who have openly identified Kaepernick’s behavior as being exactly the kind of thing they serve to protect.
A week after benefitting from the institutional incompetence of the Detroit Lions1 the Atlanta Falcons found themselves on the other side of a victory-swinging cock-up against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. When Bills defensive lineman Jerry Hughes tackled Matt Ryan from behind in the third quarter, the ball was jarred loose and returned by Bills corner Tre’Davious White for a touchdown. The Bills would ultimately prevail over the Falcons by six points so this touchdown was absolutely the difference in this game. The problem, of course, is that replays clearly show that Matty Ice has incredible finger strength: the ball may have shifted in his hand but he never lost control until his arm was moving forward. That means that this was an incomplete pass and that the Falcons absolutely got screwed. But this – the most recent example of the never-ending fumble vs. incomplete pass shitshow – is boring NFL incompetence. We can do better.
In a week where the most important NFL action was taking place on the sidelines and where seemingly every game exploded into a cacophony of madness at onepointoranother, the Detroit Lions elected to spend Sunday afternoon honoring their proud heritage of failure and losing in the most heartbreaking way possible.
That the Lions, long one of the NFL’s greatest laughing stocks, would lose to an Atlanta Falcons team that – if only temporarily – held a huge lead in the Super Bowl just last season, is not surprising. It’s the manner of Detroit’s defeat that made this loss so particularly painful. After trailing all afternoon, the Lions marched down the field and appeared to take their first lead of the game with only eight seconds left on the clock as Matthew Stafford found Golden Tate on a quick in-route at the goal line.
The play, ruled a touchdown on the field, was subject to video review, as are all touchdowns. Replays of the play made it clear that there was certainly room for debate as to whether or not Tate was down by contact just short of the goal line. That no single camera angle showed conclusive proof that Tate is both down and touched by an opposing player before crossing the goal line – the latter portion being an important aspect of “down by contact” – did not stop the officials from overturning the on-field ruling and taking Detroit’s touchdown off the board.
While Lions fans were certainly aggrieved at this first portion of the revised ruling, it was no fresh experience; after all they’ve witnessed, “long-suffering” is the default epithet for all Lions fans. Luckily for Detroit, the Tate non-touchdown was a third down play, meaning they at least had one more shot for a victory on fourth down.
If you were looking for proof that the beginning of the NFL season is filled with disastrous, sloppy football then by the end of Sunday night you would’ve had a lot of material to work with: the first full day of the season included blown calls, botched punts and a handful of memorable brokenplays. None of that, though, measures up to the peak of NFL incompetence that was on display in Week 1. I am talking, of course, about review-tablet-holder-guy.
The official NFL review booth is a dude holding a tablet that looks like a miniature review booth.
This utter nonsense involved a living, breathing human being used as a replacement for, I don’t know, a fucking table? A goddamned tripod? Literally any flat surface? The whole thing is even more egregious when you realize that, in order to look at the tiny screen being held before his eyes by some poor, wayward NFL pleb, the referee is completely ignoring the massive, high definition jumbotron that’s lurking right over his shoulder.
I get it. NBA players that you’ve never even heard of are pulling down huge new contracts while players who are adequate but unspectacular are getting insanely huge new contracts despite being massive injury risks.1 It’s probably enough to make you wonder if you should’ve played basketball instead of dedicating your life to a game that even its best players are saying will destroy your brain.
America is kind of a dumb place right now. We suck at akudemicksschool and we keep putting people who seem to be terrible at their jobs in charge of our most cherished institutions. Oh and we elected Donald covfefing Trump as our President too. Not a great run. America likes to see itself as a roaring F-150 but the reality is that we’ve become a squealing clown car filled with literal bozos.
So when I saw that some people are predicting that Peyton Manning will become the President of the United States of America some day, I didn’t think, “Wow, that’s pretty stupid because he doesn’t know a goddamn thing about politics.” Instead, I thought, “Yeah, that seems about right.”
The only question that really remains is: what kind of leader will Presidential Peyton be? Let’s take a look.
Under the best of circumstances it would have been hard to be excited about the fantasy prospects of the New York Jets this year. We are not operating under the best of circumstances.
With the news that the Jets are planning to trade or release Eric Decker, the Jets have clearly committed to tanking not only their actual season but also your fantasy season, assuming you’re stupid enough to draft someone from gangrene Gang Green. Brandon Marshall, the other half of the Jets’ briefly dominant wideout pair, is suiting up for the crosstown rival Giants now, which means that the best receiver left on the roster is – let me make sure I’ve got this right – Quincy Enunwa? Jesus swing dancing Christ.
The offensive line – once a strength of the team – has been decimated by age and ineffectiveness. A unit that once pummeled its opponents is now bereft of all the players that once made it so intimidating. Having released Nick Mangold earlier this year, the dominant core that once included long-time left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and interior mauler Matt Slauson is well in the rearview. Even worse, the team seems content to head into the season with the three-headed monster of Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty at quarterback. With quarterbacks like that, the best case scenario for the Jets passing game is that, due to a clerical error, all their games are cancelled.
Before I get ahead of myself, I want to give you guys some much deserved love. Adrian, you had the best combination of size and speed that I’ve ever seen at running back. In 2012, you managed to run for 2,097 yards even though running backs were becoming increasingly irrelevant and despite the fact that every single team you played against stacked the box because your quarterback was as intimidating as a loaf of white bread. And that happened when you were coming off a torn ACL! That’s nuts man. You really were the real life equivalent of a superhero – and you knew it, which made the whole thing that much better.
Marshawn. You were tough. You were silent. You loved you some Skittles. Oh, and there was that time that you literally caused an earthquake. And then a few years later you ran over the entire Arizona Cardinals team in a run so amazing that one of your teammates compared it to, uh, escaping slavery? That’s…powerful stuff. If given the choice between being hit by you or a Mack truck, I’d at least ask how fast the truck was going before I made up my mind, you know?
Dear Everyone in Bill Belichick’s Fantasy Football League,
First off, yes. I understand that you’re going to pretend that you don’t exist. That Bill Belichick – perhaps the greatest coach in NFL history – couldn’t possibly have the time or lack of self worth to play fantasy football. I get that you’re going to say that. And I know that it’s a lie. This is Bill Belichick we’re talking about here. The Hoodie himself! The man is so competitive that he’s probably secretly videotaping the entire Miami Dolphins roster right now as they eat brunch, trying to get an edge for next year based on how Ryan Tannehill likes his eggs.1 So yeah, he’s definitely pummeling a bunch of schmucks in a fantasy league every year.