Reusse: Despite NFL's flaws, we cannot look away

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 26, 2012 - 12:24 AM

 Even the ham-handed replacement refs and Roger Goodell's arrogance can't break the NFL's stranglehold on its fans.

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Officials signal a touchdown by Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate, obscured, on the last play of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 14-12.

Photo: Stephen Brashear, Associated Press

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Derrick Rhone-Dunn had not been impressive serving as the back judge in Monday night's game involving Green Bay and Seattle. Yet, here was his chance to end the night in heroic fashion, saving his collection of imitation officials, the NFL and Jon Gruden's blood pressure from spiraling into chaos.

More than most of the lady and gentlemen posing these days as the NFL's arbiters of on-field justice, Rhone-Dunn should have been up to this moment. He had worked as a Big 12 official, and was part of the crew for the 2007 Sugar Bowl.

Rhone-Dunn's experience was revealed as he moved into perfect position to view the result of the scrum that took place on a pass lofted to the end zone by Seattle's Russell Wilson on the last play.

A yard in front of Derrick, there was Green Bay's M.D. Jennings with the football tight to his chest and secured with two arms. And there was Seattle's Golden Tate with a late, one-armed reach-around, after he had lost contact with the football while in the air.

All Rhone-Dunn had to do was make an emphatic signal that this was an interception and a touchback, and the NFL would have survived another week of clownish but not catastrophic results with the flag-happy temps.

Sadly for all, except the members of the locked-out NFL Referees Association, Derrick choked. He made an innocuous arm-waving gesture, enabling the poorly located side judge, Lance Easley, to arrive on the scene and to signal touchdown -- giving the Seahawks an illegitimate victory.

Easley is a junior college and high school ref. Why would a guy who has worked a Sugar Bowl, and who had his eyes right on top of the play, decide to step aside for a colleague with a JUCO pedigree who did not have the great view?

I'm betting Derrick will be asking himself that question until this weekend, when he and Easley and the clueless leader of these sorry imposters, Wayne Elliott, get a chance to screw up another game.

On Tuesday, the NFL backed the decision to uphold the touchdown, which was announced in comedic fashion by Elliott with Pete Carroll, the jubilant Seattle coach, standing a couple of feet to his left.

No doubt, the NFL's decision to go with doublespeak rather than to admit the outcome was a fiasco led more fans to social media and to websites to make this declaration:

They are done watching the NFL until the experienced refs are allowed to return to work.

I went to NFL.com early Tuesday morning, and the comment area was filled with these vows of NFL celibacy. Of course, the posters were all posers. The follow-up to Monday's brouhaha could lead to the largest NFL Network audience so far Thursday night when Cleveland visits Baltimore.

How could we resist? We get to watch Larry the Cable Guy lead an officiating crew, and maybe hear a louder, longer "manure chant'' than Ravens fans mustered during Sunday night's game with New England.

Which offers this reminder: There's about a 75-25 percent chance that the entire football was not inside the outside of the goalpost on Justin Tucker's winning field goal for Baltimore, meaning the ragtag refs might be on a two-game streak for producing erroneous results.

What does the NFL care? It knows that "The Shield'' is bullet-proof.

The NFL knows your threats to stop watching, attending and Fantasizing are hollow. It will remain the most watched, most profitable and most cynical league in the history of American sports.

Commissioner Roger Goodell grabbed 7 percent from the players with the lockout, and continues to steal the players' money with a weekly litany of fines. The lockout of the players worked so well that Goodell and the owners are now attempting to cut pension money and exert more authority over the refs ... and the product be damned.

Emperor Rog also knows how to deal with the peons, the taxpayers, who better not whine about ponying up a half-billion dollars to build a Taj Mahal of a stadium for a real estate developer from New Jersey, or your team will wind up in L.A.

The officials are frauds. The NFL's cover-up for them is a fraud. Results have turned fraudulent. The owners' financial demands are fraudulent.

And we'll all be watching Thursday night.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500-AM. preusse@startribune.com

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San Francisco 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 0 3rd Prd
Buffalo 5
Carolina 2 3rd Prd 18:55
Columbus 3
Pittsburgh 1 2nd Prd 6:48
Detroit 0
Montreal 0 1st Prd 9:53
Chicago 0
Arizona 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
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