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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New England 5:30 PM
Seattle
Miami 83 FINAL
Boston 75
LA Lakers 80 FINAL
New York 92
Arizona 3 FINAL
Montreal 2
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Nashville 4 3rd Prd 5:33
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 2 2nd Prd 10:34
Vancouver 0
Miami-Florida 54 FINAL
Florida State 55
Oakland 96 FINAL
Youngstown St 80
Cincinnati 46 FINAL
East Carolina 50
Michigan 66 FINAL
Michigan State 76
Marist 75 FINAL
Canisius 67
Fordham 77 FINAL
Dayton 101
Manhattan 87 FINAL
Monmouth 76
Quinnipiac 96 2nd OT 2:24
Niagara 95
Utah 58 2nd Half 3:29
USC 35
Connecticut 29 2nd Half 15:03
Houston 41
California 53 2nd Half 15:38
Washington 51
North Dakota St 54 2nd Half 10:17
Western Ill 48
Penn State 65 FINAL
(22) Rutgers 76
(14) Texas 59 FINAL
TCU 64
Coll of Charleston 49 FINAL
Towson 71
Cornell 53 FINAL
Yale 60
Xavier 68 FINAL
Providence 57
Drexel 61 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 44
Stony Brook 60 FINAL
New Hampshire 52
Maine 52 FINAL
Albany 44
Miami-Florida 66 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
(21) Georgia 72 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 80
Arizona 69 FINAL
Colorado 81
Wake Forest 63 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 92
Loyola-Chicago 56 FINAL
Illinois State 72
(24) Oklahoma 69 FINAL
West Virginia 78
St Johns 73 FINAL
Seton Hall 78
Delaware 73 FINAL
Hofstra 62
Binghamton 49 FINAL
UMass Lowell 66
Vermont 49 FINAL
Hartford 60
William & Mary 72 FINAL
Northeastern 66
Boston College 60 FINAL
(16) North Carolina 72
Virginia 77 FINAL
Clemson 72
(2) Connecticut 83 FINAL
Temple 49
Arkansas 53 FINAL
Alabama 42
Virginia Tech 71 FINAL
Georgia Tech 79
Kansas 58 FINAL
(3) Baylor 66
Canisius 51 FINAL
Rider 52
Monmouth 52 FINAL
Fairfield 54
Quinnipiac 81 FINAL
Saint Peters 50
Butler 55 FINAL
Creighton 62
Wichita State 61 FINAL
Drake 64
Evansville 52 FINAL
Indiana State 67
(18) Miss State 44 2nd Half 13:01
(6) Tennessee 59
Villanova 29 2nd Half 12:06
DePaul 36
Georgetown 45 2nd Half 14:35
Marquette 49
North Texas 27 2nd Half 14:39
Rice 34
Auburn 25 2nd Half 12:57
(12) Texas A&M 50
(11) Arizona State 36 2nd Half 11:30
Utah 30
Missouri State 34 2nd Half 14:51
Northern Iowa 36
Michigan 39 2nd Half 14:11
(15) Nebraska 41
Minnesota 38 2nd Half 11:00
Northwestern 53
Wisconsin 43 2nd Half 15:13
Illinois 32
Bradley 30 2nd Half 14:56
Southern Ill 40
Florida 9 1st Half 12:40
Vanderbilt 9
(20) Iowa 11 1st Half 15:45
(5) Maryland 6
(1) South Carolina 3:30 PM
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Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
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Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
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