You would think after spending the last several years struggling to withstand its various unforced errors — whether those involve the criminal and otherwise inappropriate conduct by some of its players off the field, the thoroughly needless outrage of kneeling during pre-game national anthems or other dumb mistakes alienating its core viewers and fans — that the NFL would be awfully protective of its rather fragile reputation.
But Sunday, you’d be wrong.
This time it wasn’t the bane of political correctness or whatever other concessions to coastal leftism the league is guilty of — at least not openly. Instead, it’s simple incompetence.
If you watched the NFC Championship, what you saw was a pivotal game decided by one of the most obvious officiating mistakes conceivable. With under two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Saints quarterback Drew Brees launched a third down pass down the sideline for receiver Tommylee Lewis, which had it been caught would have given the home team and top NFC seed a first down inside the Rams’ 10-yard line with the score tied at 20. But Lewis never had a chance to catch the ball, because before it got to him Rams’ defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman, who had gotten away with a fairly obvious pass interference call earlier in the game, leveled him with a vicious helmet-to-helmet shot.
The play should have been called a personal foul. It wasn’t even called pass interference. And it decided the game, which the Rams “won,” 26-23 in overtime.
If you don’t think this was the worst, most consequential, officiating blunder in the modern history of the league, then take another look at it and feel free to explain why.
And if you don’t think it decided the game, think again. If the play is correctly called, the Saints have the ball with a first and goal at the Rams’ seven-yard line with a minute and 45 seconds left in a 20-20 game and the Rams have only one time out left. Anybody can tell you what happens at that point — the Saints take a knee on first down, and Los Angeles calls its final time out with maybe 1:40 left. The Saints then take two more knees as they burn the clock down to 25 seconds or less, before calling one of their two remaining time outs and sending kicker Will Lutz, who missed only two field goals all season, out for the field goal which wins the game.
There were multiple bad calls during that game, and it did appear they were somewhat lopsided in favor of the visitors, who got away with pass interference and offensive holding at their leisure. And while New Orleans’ offensive line needed to have played a better game and head coach Sean Payton needed to come up with some better play-calling, the blown call at the seven-yard line was the deciding factor in the game.
This is a multi-billion-dollar industry and the NFL can’t get that call correct? How is the league going to recover from such an ignominious failure?
Worse will be the unshakable feeling among many that somehow the NFL office’s hand was on the scale in that game. Both conference championship games pitted large-market teams — the Rams and the New England Patriots — against small-market teams in the Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Saints-Rams game came first, which meant that if the NFL wanted to avoid the prospect of two small markets facing off in the Super Bowl, the league’s biggest television payday event of the year, then New Orleans couldn’t win that game.
Conspiracy theory? Sure. It isn’t any more implausible than Robey-Coleman’s helmet-to-helmet shot on Lewis before the ball arrived not being a penalty.
If the league office really was coddling Los Angeles in hopes of promoting pro football to what has been a fairly unfriendly market over the years — both the Rams and Raiders failed in Los Angeles and moved to other markets, though the Rams are now back with the promise of a multi-billion dollar stadium coming in 2020 — then surely it won’t mind if those of us in Louisiana and neighboring states who have tolerated Roger Goodell’s mismanagement for the sole purpose of rooting Drew Brees and his team to the Super Bowl now choose to boycott viewing the event. It seems at least somewhat apparent we aren’t the eyeballs the NFL is looking for.
But mistakes do add up. And Goodell’s office is a serial maker of them.
So on Saturday President Trump made an offer to the Democrats as an attempt to break the deadlock surrounding the government shutdown, an offer which wasn’t especially popular with Trump’s conservative base…
Trump on Saturday proposed a deal that would include more than $5 billion in funding for a wall along the southern border, a three-year extension of protections for “Dreamers” who benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and TPS holders, and funding for additional immigration judges.
Ann Coulter threw a fit on Twitter, declaring that Trump had put “amnesty” on the table and that “We voted for Trump and got Jeb!” The charge of “amnesty” was also put forth by the anti-illegal immigration group Numbers USA.
But the Democrats rejected Trump’s offer out of hand. Which was no surprise.
There is a possibility behind the shutdown which has received little attention but is worth remembering after being hinted at a week ago in an anonymous Daily Caller op-ed by a “senior Trump official” declaring that the government is actually operating far more efficiently with a skeleton staff because the embedded Resistance operators are not on hand to thwart the president’s agenda.
That op-ed telegraphed the possibility, enunciated in an American Thinker piece by Thomas Lifson, that Trump might avail himself of a provision in federal law allowing for government employees furloughed for a month to be permanently laid off. The process for Reduction In Force (RIF) layoffs is spelled out as preventing political motives from entering into consideration for those being RIF’ed, but if Trump were to dump overboard large swathes of federal employees and shrink the bureaucracy there is little doubt most of those he would eliminate from the federal workforce are card-carrying Democrats who furthermore belong to government employee unions who contribute millions of dollars to Democrat politicians each cycle. There’s the American Federation of Government Employees, for example, which gave some $2.8 million to political candidates in the 2018 electoral cycle — 88 percent of which went to Democrats. There’s the National Active & Retired Federal Employees Association, 75 percent of whose $980,000 in 2018 contributions were to Democrats. There’s the National Treasury Employees Union, which spent 90 percent of the $700,000 it contributed in 2018 to Democrats. And so on. Draining the federal government of its employees would be to drain the Democrats of a large chunk of their fundraising base.
Not to mention the billions of dollars the government would save by automating or contracting out much of its paper-pushing — or perhaps refraining from doing a lot of what it does which harms our economy more than helping it.
We’ve said before in this space that the shutdown is a lot more of a threat to the Democrats than to Trump or the Republicans, and all it takes is some presidential sand to recognize that fact and act on it. But what’s possible is that Trump has a long, transformational game in mind which could well result in an unmitigated political disaster for the Democrat leadership.
And should he spring that trap and begin the RIF carnage his unnamed subordinate hinted at last week, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi will not only have had warning of what might have happened but they would have turned down an amnesty offer (at least of sorts) that could have prevented it.
We probably haven’t behaved well enough to deserve such a gift. But it’s something to watch nonetheless.
Finally, one other item — namely, last week’s controversy over the ridiculous Gillette ad attacking its customers for their toxic masculinity. By now most of what can be said about Gillette and their toxic brand management, you’ve already seen. One thing I will add is the decision-maker who opted to embark on the unwise course of insulting half the razor company’s customers by accusing them of substandard character is a man named Pankaj Bhalla, who has been the brand manager for Gillette and Venus, the Procter & Gamble company marketing razors for women.
Bhalla is, as you might notice from his name, of Indian extraction and was in born and raised in that country. He didn’t attend college in the United States — Bhalla received a baccalaureate degree in business and managerial economics from the Indian Institute of Management and Commerce, Hyderabad, and then earned a post-graduate degree in brand management from Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad. He then held several corporate posts upon entering the workforce, including an assistant brand manager position at Hero Honda Motors, Ltd. of India, Brand Manager, Gillette & Duracell — Middle East, located in Dubai, and Senior Brand Manager, Oral Care — Central, Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa, located in Geneva, before moving to the United States to work for Procter & Gamble’s Oral Care health franchise in Cincinnati in 2012.
You read that right. This man is not from the United States and has been working in brand management in this market for less than seven years, and he greenlit a commercial spot which assailed American men as boorish and barbarian. And prior to 10 years ago he’d spent his entire life in India and the Middle East.
Now how does it feel to be lectured to about your toxic masculinity by Pankaj Bhalla?