SB50 Officiating a Major Turn-Off for Many Fans

...including this fan. 

First off, let me be clear: I'm not blaming Carolina's Super Bowl loss on the officiating. Denver played a superior game defensively, although an inferior one offensively, setting records for offensive futility by a Super Bowl winner - even worse than the Trent Dilfer-led offensive juggernaut that was the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.

The Panthers' offense did as much to beat themselves as the Denver defense did, but the Denver defense was opportunistic...and with some "official" help.


{editor's note: part 3 has since been put up so I edited to add it here, following:}

Now for another cold dose of reality. If anybody were to tell me in the preseason that Carolina would make the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl, after #1 WR Kelvin Benjamin went down for the season with a torn ACL, I'd have laughed and called it wishful thinking. I think most fans felt the same at the time.

However, the Panthers proved us wrong by a long shot, having lost only one game out of 18 before the Super Bowl was played. After KB went down, I'd have said "SOLD!" if I were promised a Super Bowl loss this season. We fans just didn't see it happening, let alone leading the entire NFL in points scored.

Neither team played a good ball game -- especially on the offensive sides -- and Super Bowl 50 will go down in history as one of the sloppiest-played, most forgettable Super Bowls ever other than "The Manning Angle." The game was not entertaining. The play calling on both sides was quite predictable...especially all those halfback dives on first and ten by Carolina, who actually ran 76 offensive plays...40 of which (more than half) gained 2 or fewer yards or lost yardage.

A lot of that goes to Denver's defense. The Panthers couldn't stop the pass rush, and by now most of you have seen Michael Oher's feet planting and skating on ice backwards into Cam as he did have his assignment squarely blocked, but the field was so piss-poor that longer cleats even could only do so much. It makes me wonder why that venue was even considered for a Super Bowl. Apparently, the stadium was built with SAND underneath the turf! My that really where you want the most important game of the NFL season being played? Might as well re-build Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia and permanently house the game there, for that matter, and none of it has to do with the officiating.

Now, take a look at a couple of the officials that were selected to "call" this game: The head guy, one Clete Blakeman, is married. Big deal. He's the guy who botched the coin toss in the Arizona victory over Green Bay. While this may seem to be a minor thing, it's a head-scratcher to me that someone unable to do something so simple be elevated to being the most important official in the most important game of the year.

His wife is a huge Denver Broncos fan. Coincidence? Perhaps. Conflict of interest? Most certainly.

He also happened to slip on this "wonderful turf" but missed a call on the most infamous play - the one where Cam "didn't jump on his fumble." Turns out, it shouldn't have been a Denver ball after all. The link below takes you to the part of a clip of it on YouTube:

Von Miller may have illegally batted the ball toward the Panthers' endzone, which would have stopped the play and given Carolina possession back.

But what about Jimmy Oldham, the replay assistant? Oh, he's actually FROM Denver, and his family attended the game as Denver Broncos fans.

I had planned to look up each official, but after getting through the first two, as well as finding the commentary from someone who claims to be an ex-NFL official (and sounding the part quite well), I'm sickened by the obvious double-standard Roger Goodell and the NFL as a whole has apparently set long before 2016.

When something so BASIC as a reception is so subjective that the officials often are the ones who make the determination, AND given the obvious bias from at least two officials working the game, I'm wondering why the NFL couldn't seemingly find officials that had ties to neither team. They most certainly could have, but clearly didn't. One has ties to Charlotte. 

Lastly, I have my own two cents to throw in as a former athlete. During my formative years, I played a LOT of baseball as a catcher so I had more of an intimate relationship with the umpires than any other player on my team. I played for about ten years during my "ute" so I know what I'm talking about on this front. 

We players, even as KIDS, knew that umpires aren't perfect and miss calls. I had my own way of letting them know they blew a call - I'd hang onto the baseball a while before throwing it back to the pitcher. They didn't care for it, but if nothing else, it helped keep them honest. I doubt they had any bias to begin with as it was youth baseball more or less, but the message was clear.

Since we knew umps are Human and not infallible, the biggest thing we were looking for was consistency. If your interpretation of a rule is a little different than others, so be it; just be consistent to all sides with it. If you call it a strike at the shins on one guy, call that same pitch the same way for all kids. 

That sort of thing is NOT what I saw in the Super Bowl, and in fact, I've seen a handful of NFL teams seemingly always get the borderline calls year after year....teams like the Packers, Patriots, Steelers, and....Broncos. The so-called "elite" QBs get calls others don't. It's no surprise the teams that have such traditional franchise QBs are the same ones that seem to benefit more from questionable calls..and the no-calls+. It's simply something that has been nagging at me for years, and have even had passing comments among friends about it. I've yet to hear someone disagree vehemently or otherwise.

Speaking of "catch or no catch," I think the infamous Dez Bryant no-catch call was what really woke fans up to the silly uncertainty of what constitutes a catch. He caught that ball, and it only jostled as he dove for the endline AFTER the catch, in an attempt to score six points. He was what the NFL calls a "runner" by then. Certainly the previously oft-heard making a "football move" had been done. But, the game was close and that TD would have seriously given the Dallas Cowboys momentum as it was such a long scoring play. Who were they playing against?

The Green Bay Packers.

Whether or not the Panthers would have or could have won Super Bowl 50 is not what bothers me here. Again, we fans didn't even think we'd win the division, let alone have such a successful season overall. 

After thinking about the officiating and especially more "recent" history of some of the more controversial calls, whom they benefited and in so many key situations, I realize I've done what I said - turned a blind eye to the just plain bad officiating we've seen more recently and I had to wonder why.

After the issue hit me square in the face in Super Bowl 50, and having done a little research which I've just shared with you, I now feel that the NFL is really nothing more than glorified Pro Wrestling. I now think anyone who truly feels it's a great sport is doing the same thing I did for years and is not being truthful with themselves when you look at evidence that had nothing to do with the Panthers or the Super Bowl this year. 

The "unbiased" *cough* *cough* nature of the officiating in Super Bowl 50 simply wasn't present, and We the Fans are not only the biggest losers because of it, we're the biggest chumps for spending so much time and hard-earned money in support of it.

"You're not old enough to get that call." -- Ed Hochuli

Now, I finally see. Thanks much, Ed.


Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye