Monday, November 17, 2008
When referee Scot Green incorrectly overturned Troy Polamalu's game clinching TD as time expired, he did more than create the first ever 11-10 score in NFL history. The slip-up cost gamblers an estimated $64 million, based on estimates from the San Diego Union-Tribune.
According to the Tribune, 66 percent of the estimated $100 million that was bet on the game was in favor of Pittsburgh, with the spread ranging between -4.5 and -5. The puzzling call wiped away a touchdown which would have brought the score to 17-10, enough for Pittsburgh to cover. According to Green, an illegal forward pass occured prior to Polamalu's touchdown, resulting in a dead ball. This would be a logical explanation if a.) there actually was a forward pass, and b.) the ball had hit the ground. Since the ball never hit the ground, according to NFL rules, it is not a dead ball, and the penalty can be declined. After the game, the NFL contacted Green and informed him that he had misinterpreted the rule.
I'm hoping this is an isolated incident, but I'm worried that its not. I don't want to say that the NFL is fixed, but sometimes I really wonder. This is the second similiar incident that has occured this season with the Chargers involved. Last time, a mistake by Ed Houchili cost gamblers millions of dollars. Coincidence? Maybe. Is it also a coincidence that Pittsburgh commited 13 penalties to San Diego's 2? (Including a horrible holding call which negated another Pittsburgh TD)
The bottom line is that the NFL is fueled by gambling, whether they want to admit it or not. I really don't think its that far-fetched to imagine the NFL influencing calls. At the very least, Roger Goddell needs to address the way referees handle the last two minutes of the game. It all starts with making referees more accountable for their actions. Especially with millions of dollars riding on the outcome.