By Bill Foley
If Al Riveron was the senior vice president of a burger joint, you would never get your order straight.
If he was the senior vice president of auto parts store, your car would never start.
If Riveron was the senior vice president of the Battle of Normandy, you’d be reading this in German.
Yet, the National Football League made Riveron the senior vice president of officiating, and he is killing football.
Since 2017, Riveron has served as the boss of the NFL officials, and the guys who work for him are constantly getting worse.
They are regressing faster than a quarterback under the tutelage of Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.
Riveron is the reason why we see all these ridiculous roughing-the-passer penalties. He is the reason why we are seeing holding calls dominate the telecast. He is the reason the league is becoming unwatchable.
If you tune into the Red Zone Channel, at any time you might see the screen broken up into four games with four referees describing the latest penalty. The officials get more TV time than Donald Trump.
Riveron’s tenure as official boss led to one fiasco after another. Just when we think the officials and rules can’t get any worse, Riveron says, “Hold my beer.”
The latest fiasco saw two calls for illegal hands to the face on Detroit lineman Trey Flowers cost the Lions a chance to beat the Packers on Monday Night Football.
You don’t have to study anatomy to know that Flowers did not touch the face of Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari on those calls that gave the Packers failed on third down conversions. “The elbow bone connects to the face bone,” is not part of the song.
Bakhtiari worked the officials, first lobbying for the call then flopping like a Brazilian soccer player to get the flag that even Packers fans will admit was unjust.
While it might seem like the official had to be blind, that is not the case either. The problem isn’t with the referee’s eyesight. The problem is with his boss.
Riveron has placed “an emphasis” on illegal hands to the face this year. He also has placed “an emphasis” on holding.
That means he wants his officials to error on the side of throwing a flag on such penalties. It is just like last year when they started placing “an emphasis” on roughing the passer, forcing the officials to throw a flag if the defender did not ask for permission before bumping into the quarterback.
Putting an emphasis on any call is silly. That just makes matters more confusing for players and more irritating for fans.
The officials should simply know the rulebook well enough to know a foul when they see one. If they are out looking for a particular foul, you better believe they will find one. That goes doubly for penalties on guys fighting in the trenches of a football game.
When coaches or players stink, they are shown the door. When general managers are that incompetent, they are canned like tuna.
It is time for the NFL to hold the officials boss to the same standard. Riveron must be sent packing before we’re all speaking German.
Speaking of incompetence, I was anything but that last week when I went 10-4 straight up and against the spread. Of course, I got a serious assist from Riveron’s guys when I exactly hit on the Packers beating the Lions by 1.
That brings me to a respectable 56-36 straight up on the season. I am still a broken-thumbs worthy 43-49 against the spread.
Following are my Week 7 NFL picks. The lines are from ESPN, the future home of Al Riveron.
Kansas City (minus 3) at Denver
If Kansas City doesn’t snap out of its recent funk, we’re going to need a wellness check for Dr. Michael Gallagher.
Chefs by just 1
Los Angeles Rams (minis 3) at Atlanta
There’s nothing wrong with the Rams that can’t be masked by playing the Falcons.
Rams by 10
Miami (plus 17) at Buffalo
The Dolphins play are almost as bad at playing football as Al Riveron is at senior vice presidenting officials.
Williams by 93
Jacksonville (minus 3.5) at Cincinnati
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is not talking about a lottery try to stop teams from tanking.
That is good news for the Bengals.
Bengals by minus 20
Minnesota (minus 1.5) at Detroit
Thanks to Riveron, the Lions are angry. Very angry. That does not bode well for Kirk Cousins.
Lions by 4
Oakland (plus 4.5) at Green Bay
Don’t look now, but Derek Carr keeps getting better and better under Chuckie.
Packers by just 2
Houston (even) at Indianapolis
While out with a head injury, Colts linebacker Darius Leonard wore his helmet and jersey as he watched his team from home.
He should not be cleared to return from his head injury until he stops doing that.
Texans by 3
Arizona (plus 3) at New York Giants
The Cardinals’ defense will get a shot in the butt with the return of Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson from his six-game PED suspension.
Cardinals by 6
San Francisco (minus 9.5) at Washington
The Redskins have to play catchup in the Tank Bowl after laying an egg in Miami.
Native Americans by minus 30
Los Angeles Chargers (minus 2) at Tennessee
The struggling Titans are benching quarterback Marcus Mariota in favor of Ryan Tannehill. Didn’t the Dolphins just give up on Tannehill?
Chargers by 8
New Orleans (plus 3) at Chicago
Pope Frances tweeted about the Saints on Sunday. Accident or not, that’s not fair.
Bears by just 1
Baltimore (plus 3.5) at Seattle
What are the odds that a horrible roughing-the-passer call will give the Seahawks a win three weeks in a row?
Actually, they are probably pretty good.
Ravens by 2
Philadelphia (plus 3) at Dallass
The Cowboys and Eagles are battling to see who is the best team in the NFC East.
Right now, that kind of seems like fighting to see who is the tallest member of the Lollypop Guild.
New England (minus 10) at New York Jets
Here’s a good, old fashioned gambling tip: Always bet on the double-digit home dog in a divisional game.
And bet on Riveron somehow finding a way to ruin your Monday night.
Patriots by 9
Resting: Browns, Steelers, Buccaneers, Panthers