Protect the Shield

I’ve been reading this site a long time. I used to post occasionally, but stopped around the time scout’s server had some issue and a bunch of people lost their post counts. Just been kind of lurking since.

But I’ve spent a lot of time reading different takes on Saturday’s outcome. I’ve spent a lot of time watching videos. I just couldn’t get over it. I was angry, because, even though the Lions seem to be turning a corner, it happened again. Now, I’ve come to almost accept the end of the game, not because it was right, or just, but because I think I’ve come to understand. I know there have been a number of posts on this already, but thought I’d add my perspective.

If you can’t tell, this is probably going to be a long post, consider yourself warned. Feel free to scroll the the end, or even just stop reading. I won’t be offended.

In college, I had a Latin professor who would write on the board IMMS meaning “It must make sense.” The point was, when doing a translation, the original author, although he lived thousands of years ago, wasn’t just writing down gibberish. The translation must make sense. It’s simple, almost silly, but I feel it actually applies to much of life.

If the NFL were actually trying to rig games, if they were instructing their refs to favor certain teams, would Green Bay, Wisconsin make more sense than say, one of the New York teams? Or, frankly, within the North, even Chicago? Would Kansas City be where you want to put a potential dynasty? Yes, some of those teams have built huge followings, but they have done so by consistently winning. You think there wouldn’t be a ton of Jets fans (or more than there already are) if they had won a few Super Bowls recently and were consistently in the playoffs? IMMS.

There have also been people talking about the NFL getting in bed with gambling, or even suggesting the mob could be involved in fixing game. While I won’t talk about individual refs, because really who can say anything for sure, from an league wide standpoint do you really think they’d risk that revenue, risk driving away viewers or even gamblers by trying to fix games. I just don’t see it. IMMS.

So, in short, I agree with Campbell when he says the league isn’t biased against the Lions. I honestly find it had to believe that anyone in the league is too thrilled with the coverage they’ve received since Saturday.

But, as I said, it happened again. In some ways this call seemed worse, because it wasn’t subjective as most calls are, but it’s just another in a string of memorable calls. Those still reading likely know what I’m talking about, so I won’t bother rehashing.

So why does it keep happening. I have a couple theories. But first another quote.

“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

This isn’t really fair though, because I don’t think the refs are stupid. They are likely very smart, and realistically probably do a far better job than I will ever give them credit for. But they are human. They aren’t perfect. They make mistakes, but I don’t think those mistakes are likely out of malice. They are just in a hard spot, made harder by faster athletes, more complex schemes, not to mention technology that allows for slow motion replays and close analysis of every call. Think about how often they get it right at game speed. It’s actually pretty impressive.

But they are human. It shouldn’t be controversial, especially on this board at this time, to say that they make mistakes. They do. It happens. Replay helps correct some of those mistakes, but not all. And sometimes even with replay it’s controversial, because calls can be so close.

But if we’re willing to accept that refs are human, and that they are sometimes wrong, why then is it so difficult for some to accept that refs can be (or frankly are) biased? They know the players, they know which teams are supposed to be good and which are supposed to be bad, they know which player is the all pro corner and which is the guy who’s been called for PI seemingly every game. Do you really think that doesn’t affect them at all, that they are somehow the only perfectly impartial humans out there (apologies to any perfectly impartial people reading this). The effect of this bias is probably overstated by many, myself included, but realistically it shouldn’t be controversial to say that refs have some biases.

As an example, in the last 15 years, the Packers have been in the top 8 teams (25% of the league) in “beneficiary yards” 8 times (53%). With rotating schedules, you would expect a team to only be in the top 8 about 3-4 times over that time period (again, around 25%), unless their division opponents just commit a disproportionate amount of penalties, in which case the other division teams should be similar (since they play an overall similar schedule). Minnesota has 5 (33%), slightly above expected, Chicago has 3 (20%), around to slightly below expected, and Detroit has 2 (13%), about half of expected. I use beneficiary yards, yards of penalties committed by the other team, because I feel like penalty yards committed by a team is more coachable and dependent on playing style. Before you say, well the Packer’s just benefitted from playing the Lions twice a year, the reality is Detroit has only been in the top 8 in yards against 3 times (20%) in the last 15 years. Now some of this may be related to teams struggling more to cover Packer’s receivers and committing PI, or needing to hold their DL more often, etc, but I think the disparity at least partially shows that there is probably some bias in officiating.

Point being, officials are not perfectly impartial, but bias does not necessarily equate to malice. While it may skew things somewhat, it doesn’t mean that the Lions haven’t been bad for years, and the Packer’s haven’t been better. It just means that ignoring bias, or pretending it doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean it isn’t present, and if you believe that some teams tend to get more calls, well, you’re probably right.

But I think there’s more going on than just simple bias. Everyone has heard about protecting the shield. Don’t allow the credibility of the NFL to be called into question. The games are fair, the results are final. Everyone knows bad calls happen, but avoid acknowledging the bad calls, at least publicly. If you’re a ref, and you’re trying to protect the shield, protect credibility, obviously try to make the right call. When in doubt, though, err on the side of minimizing controversy. End of a big game, let them play, better to not make the call than make the controversial one that decides a game. And if you’re trying to avoid a big controversy (this is probably the most tinfoil hat I’ll get) definitely don’t make the controversial call that spoils it for the NFL darling (how long did the replacements last after costing Green Bay a win on a nationally televised controversial call? Funny how fast the NFL settled things after that). So, if you see things differently than another ref, say a PI in a playoff game, don’t be the ref who’s name is all over the news for the next week as being the guy who cost Dallas a playoff win with a controversial call, better to be the guy who didn’t make the call and let them play it out. People will argue about it, the Detroit fans will add it to a list, but it will blow over.

Now, back to the original point, back to this Dallas game.

To me, Saturday wasn’t about bias. This wasn’t a bang bang play, this wasn’t subjective. This was procedural. This was objective. And frankly, this was wrong. The Lions did nothing wrong. They informed the ref about the play. Goff told Decker to report, Decker reported. Period. They did their part.

And then Allen messed up. He made a mistake. He announced 70 was eligible. The Lions didn’t correct him, but that’s no their job. Their job is to report and to execute. They didn’t have a timeout, but even if they did, if they drew attention to the mistake, it would have made it pretty obvious that it was pretty important that Decker reported as eligible. The ref messed up. Pure and simple.

But the reality is, he gave Detroit a competitive advantage by doing so. He told the defense the wrong player was eligible. It’s not Detroit’s fault, but it is advantage to Detroit. And his mistake was public. It’s on record, it’s announced in the stadium.

And you have to protect the shield. Minimize controversy. It’s too late to get it right, the mistake has been made. That ship has sailed.

So, if they let the play stand and Detroit goes on to win, how long before it’s all over social media, all over the shows, that Dallas was cheated. That the ref messed up and cost Dallas the game. That the NFL fixed the game to give the feel good story of the Detroit Lions the second seed with a shot at the first. As much controversy and fallout there was from the call, if they don’t make the call it’s only a matter of time before Skip Bayless is all over ESPN, all the other analysts are out there talking about how the refs cost Dallas the game, and the reality is they’d have a point.

Protect the Shield.

There’s no do overs. Except, if you call the penalty, push Detroit back, they can kick it. 23 seconds left. Tie game. If Dallas scores in those 23 seconds, the 2 points don’t matter anyway. They don’t score, game goes to overtime. Detroit wins in overtime, no controversy, they won. They lose in overtime, well, they had overtime to overcome the penalty. Bad calls happen, they still had their chance. And besides, announcing Skipper is on video, it’s on everyones’ cell phone who was there recording the ending. Whatever Decker said, whether he truly heart it or not is actually irrelevant, isn’t. The best hope to avoid controversy is probably to call the penalty.

Protect the Shield.

Except Campbell is Campbell. He’s pissed. He’s going. Doesn’t convert, another chance. He’s going. And again, if Detroit coverts, controversy over. Call doesn’t matter. NFL gets to avoid all the bad press. Except they don’t convert. Refs messed up, likely cost the Lions the game.

Protect the Shield.

Lions confused the refs (wait, does this mean the NFL refs, not the replacements but the actual refs, are easily confused, even though they were told in advance about the play?)

Protect the Shield.

Calls were missed against Detroit, Lions should have never been in the position to win (wait, does this mean your refs aren’t perfect, that they make mistakes that help decide games?)

Protect the Shield.

The Lions should have done more to make sure the ref knew what was happening, it’s not the refs fault. Don’t question our credibility, and especially don’t expect an immediate Jim Joyce level statement (wait, why are those same refs are being downgraded?)

Protect the Shield.

Rinse and repeat.

And honestly, I get it. I’m still not happy, but I get it. It’d be nice for the NFL to have some transparency, to admit what we all already know. But it just isn’t how they operate. With only 17 games, when just about every game, at least for the competitors, has some form of playoff implications, you don’t want to start drawing into doubt the credibility of some of the outcomes of those games. So you don’t. You protect the shield.


I remember you!
And, your long ass posts.:rofl:
Seriously, though. Great to see you back in the fold.
You remember me as Notfishinsunday.

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I do remember you as well.

And definitely still long winded

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That’s okay. We love you, anyway.
I look forward to reading half your posts and skipping to the end.
I wouldn’t bust your chops if you weren’t family.:rofl:

Someone please give a 1000 word or less summary of original post. TIA


Like I said, I’m not offended. Honestly just writing out my thoughts after Saturday is more cathartic than anything. And good to see the posters from those truly dark days of the Lions still around


Uh, uh! You want to know whats in there, you gotta read it yourself.:rofl:

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If thought you would be, I wouldn’t be doing it.

I’m just going to assume quantity = quality in this situation and will go ahead and like the post without reading. “A” for effort.

TLDR: NFL is going to protect the NFL


It’s actually a good read, as most of his posts are.:grinning:


Now that is something I can read, comprehend, and agree with pretty easily!

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Except for the TLDR part

Funny, brought that up to my wife just yesterday.

Nice to see you back vocally…err posting…you know what I mean :wink: :laughing:

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yeah dude, keep posting. Good stuff

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It’s just something that has always bothered me. The replacements were not great, but I would argue with my friends at the time that at least they were universally not great. And as a Lions fan, seeing some teams deal with some bad calls that, from my perspective, don’t have to deal with those types of calls as frequently, was actually pretty nice.

Which is why it always bothered me that the final straw was, of all teams, the Packers. Because as I said I think the NFL would prefer to avoid any controversy, particularly at the end of games, I think it just adds credence to the idea that they especially want to avoid that controversy if it involves one of the higher profile teams. And it’s hard to not believe, at least to some degree, that it’s in the back of some refs minds when you see things like Saturday (or some of the calls in the Dallas playoff game).

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Nice write up LC. I read every word and I agree with your view. It’s a bs stance from the league but it makes sense as to why they cannot be challenged publicly by the teams.

Oh, I agree, the replacement refs weren’t perfect, but they seemed to call it fair both ways and that’s what did them in, imo.


Summary: Refs suck. Lions got hosed

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Now,please explain the dissproportinate number of game-changing calls called against the Lions over the years. I’m not talking about the numerous garden variety number of calls against the Lions over many years. I’m referring to the Calvin Johnson,(When is a Catch truly a Catch),or another game in Dallas, whereby, a penalty was called on Dallas near the end of the game for PI, and mysteriously the Flag was picked up, on a blatent, PI play, which changed the outcome of a game. Or the phantom roughing the passer, called on the Lions with Green Bay’s Rodgers winning an Oscar, which subsequently was determined to be wrong, and resulted ultimately, in a Packer victory, in the last minute of a game in Detroit.

The list is long. A cynic would say “Them’s the Breaks, get over it”. When events like the above happen year after year, repeatedly to one team, it’s cause to wonder, “What’s going on here?” It’s more than a statistical anomaly to the average fan when the same sorts of game changing events in critical situations happen over and over to the same team. Some would call the Lions a Patsy. Dregs deserve to be treated like dregs. Outside influences? Blind incompetence? Bad coaching? Bad talent? Gambling?..

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