What we’ve all been dreading Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! There are plenty of reasons to be a fan of the NFL over other sports.

It's an exciting game with supreme athleticism, choreographical beauty, and intellectual strategy. At turns, a football game can be won by the strongest men, while at others, its smartest can rule the day. It is played by nimble 330-pound men and brutally strong 230-pounders alike.

For the most part, it is a fair game.

Never before have I thought about why I love the NFL and considered officiating. But I have often viewed soccer matches and boxing bouts, noted the notoriously inconsistent officiating, and found myself grateful to not be a fan of either sport.

How could I invest my emotions in a sport where the three judges are the only people watching - either in person or on TV - who believe a fight has been won by the guy in the blue corner? Or, where a player, fully aware of how much (s)he can get away with, can take a dive which leads to a game-deciding free kick?

Indeed, there are controversial calls scattered throughout the history of the NFL. But they had been no more frequent than any other sport decided by the human eye. I'll argue they had been less frequent.

Through three weeks of this 2012 NFL season, the games without controversial calls have been the notable exceptions. What happened last night was an inevitability:

This was bound to happen, what with NFL ownership (we've been targeting Roger Goodell and Ray Anderson specifically, but really, Goodell is only carrying out orders from ownership, and Anderson is enforcing the rules of the game) gambling with the integrity of their cash cow.

Surely, they figured they could get by with shitty officiating. Even if it decided a game or two, what were the chances it would happen on national TV, or at the expense of one of the league's marquee franchises?

Both occurred last night.

At this point, it's a matter of how well and quickly they can recover. Realistically speaking, the NFL isn't going to lose fans over a single call from one regular-season game.

But the farther the owners continue down this path with their scab officials, the more they risk damaging the sport for the longer term.

It took several years for MLB to recover from its player strike of 1994; the NHL has still not righted itself fully after its 2004-05 lockout.

The NFL deftly maneuvered around its own lockout in 2011 (remember when that's all we could talk about?), and perhaps that's what emboldened the owners to steal a few million from the retirement plans of their referees. We survived the threat of losing a season; this is nothing compared to that.

Incredibly, ownership has selected this route even while safety issues had made them the target of class-action lawsuits by thousands of ex-players. The Ginger Hammer & Co. had even successfully convinced a segment of the football viewing public that the players themselves were to blame, what with the Saints bounty scandal. We are surviving the suicides of current and ex-players; we can handle a referee pension dispute.

Take heed, NFL owners: your boldness is leading you closer and closer to the edge, and the only way to truly know how far you can go, is to go too far, thus joining boxing and soccer among the wreckage of once-popular American sports.

It's just not worth it. Please, bring back the real officials.

Scabs

Oh, there was a great football game, before that ridiculous call. In a stunning display, Seattle sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times in the first half of their 14-12 victory. But obviously, all anyone wants to write/talk/tweet about is the call.

The NFL says they will address the debacle sometime today. What could Greg Aiello possibly have the nerve to say?

Even Seahawks players were so stunned by what happened, that half of them were in the locker room and already taken their pads off before being called back out to the field for the extra point. And, even Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says it's time to end the lockout.

NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal refers to the rulebook and points out that possession is not reviewable, since you're all wondering how the non-scab replay official didn't overturn the call.

Several Packers players were among those tweeting their disbelief last night; many others joined in; although he's a Viking, Chris Kluwe admits the call was blown.

Dan Wetzel says the Ginger Hammer owes us all an apology; Matt Bowen says to save your talk of simultaneous possession; Will Brinson sees last night as a tipping point; Joe Posnanski says it was outright fraud; prior to the game, Mike Silver and Drew Magary saw enough poor calls to demand the lockout end.

Broncos

Here's video of Rod Smith's Ring of Fame induction and John Fox's Monday presser, plus participation data from Sunday.

Fox says Tracy Porter reaggravated a knee bruise, that all players injured Sunday are currently day-to-day, and he hasn't yet ruled Chris Kuper out for Sunday. Of course, he says Porter should have had help over the top on Andre Johnson's long touchdown, he has no clue as to why Eric Decker slid on his third-quarter catch, and he claims Joe Mays's hit on Matt Schaub wasn't dirty.

For their parts, Decker claims he didn't want to get injured, and that he wanted to help preserve the clock for Denver to get another offensive play off, while Mays says he apologized to Schaub both on the field and long after the game had ended.

Andrew Mason says Kevin Vickerson also should have had help on the touchdown catch he allowed Arian Foster, and Mason joins us in wondering why the Broncos didn't go to the no-huddle earlier on Sunday.

Jeff Legwold sees a positive in how the Broncos offense has adjusted in the second half of games against stellar defensive coordinators and game plans, but he says the Denver defense must fare better on third downs going forward.

Trimmings

All-world Jets CB Darrelle Revis, Colts WR Austin Collie, and Bucs DE Adrian Clayborn are done for the year with injuries; thankfully, Raiders WR Darrius Heyward-Bey's neck injury is not considered severe.

NFLPA head De Smith says the union wants concussion experts on the sideline of every NFL game, but naturally, ownership has resisted that call.

Meanwhile, the NFL is trying to block Saints LB Jonathan Vilma's request to see the so-called evidence in his bounty case.

Sam Monson reviews the Raiders' stunning victory over the Steelers.

Did the officials rule correctly on the last play of the Seahawks' 14-12 victory over the Packers?

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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