After Further Review...
At a corporate presentation recently, I was asked "Did you ever officiate an NFL game where there was a controversial call made?" My answer was, "Every Sunday afternoon!" Then the follow-up question, "Were you the official who made it?"
I love the Q&A sessions in my presentations. The questions are forthright and general with the questioner curious about the job of a game official. More than often, however, the person asking has a specific incident that involved a team of which he/she is a fan. In either case, the answer - my answer - needs to be clear, concise and honest.
With the 2010 NFL season now underway, controversy is in full play. And that word - controversy - will be mentioned regularly. Fans of one T.E.A.M. or another will be angry at 1) game officials; 2) coaches, and/or 3) players. Fans want perfection from all of the above - no, let me correct that - fans want their T.E.A.M. to win (perfection not always required).
Controversy is in the eyes of the beholder. As an example, consider Washington DC and its direction; the corporate world, currently HP and Oracle among others; and in local city councils (you pick it). But nothing stirs fans' emotions like sports.
With 4th and 1 at the goal line, should a T.E.A.M. go for the touchdown or field goal? Does a coach replace his starting QB when he is struggling? Who takes the blame for a T.E.A.M. with more losses than wins - coach, assistants, player(s) or all the above?
A former NFL player wrote to me recently that "I had cheated him out of a paycheck" because of a call I made 45 years ago. They don't forget! Then there's the call in the 2010 MLB season that denied a pitcher a no-hitter. The umpire who made it wasn't cheating. It was an error in judgment, as he later admitted.
Errors in judgment happen every day - parents, teachers, executives and government officials. Were they 'cheating' or just making a decision that was honest, but incorrect? When "scandals" occur - e.g. NBA referee Donaghy; Lay and Skilling at Enron; Edwards, et al in government, it causes the public to suspect that all officials, government and corporate executives are "crooks," i.e. to swerve from a straight line. As was once said, "You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts."