If not the bottle, officials need to get off something

If not the bottle, officials need to get off something

By Bill Foley

Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcom Jenkins got in a little bit of hot water Sunday for calling out bad officiating.

“That was a pretty terrible call,” Jenkins told reporters after a controversial replay decision that, not surprisingly, went against the Eagles and for the Cowboys.

Jenkins helped force an obvious fumble on the opening kickoff, and teammate Kamu Grugier-Hill clearly recovered it inside the Dallas 20-yard line. However, NFL officiating boss Alberto Riveron, the guy who makes the replay calls, couldn’t see what the rest of the world could see, and he ruled Cowboys’ ball.

My grandpa Jerry always told me those “damn Texans” get every call. Sunday shows us that they still do. Of course, he was talking about the Cowboys since he started saying that in the 1960s.

(Unfortunately, my grandpa passed away before he could see the Dez Bryant call at Lambeau Field.)

Jenkins continued, “They reviewed it and the explanation I got was that it wasn’t a clear recovery, although Kamu had the ball in his hand and there was only Eagles defenders on the ball in replay.”

“So whoever is watching that in New York should stay off the bottle.”

While we should give Riveron the benefit of the doubt and say that he probably is not drunk on NFL Sundays, the drunks at any sports bar watching on the game could almost always make better replay decisions than Riveron.

He is horrible. He is beyond horrible. He’s been the senior vice president of officiating for just two seasons, and he already holds the record for reviews that make the right call wrong.

If he isn’t drunk, he is blind. Or maybe he’s betting on the games himself. There has to be some explanation for that level of ineptitude.

Riveron is the guy who called Zach Miller’s touchdown catch incomplete last year in New Orleans because, we can only assume, he didn’t maintain the catch all the way to the hospital. The NFL competition committee had to change the rules of “what is a catch” because Riveron couldn’t tell what common sense should have told him.

Nobody in his right mind would trust Riveron with his pizza order.

He’s the butt fumble of referee bosses.

Yet, somehow, Riveron is the guy in charge of the NFL officials. Under his leadership, the men in stripes are dominating our television screens more and more each week.

Sunday should have been the most exciting day in the history of the Red Zone Channel. We had exciting ending after exciting ending on DirecTV.

Even with all the great action, though, we still had tons of officiating delays, and we still saw more closeups of zebras than football players.

When the Red Zone Channel producers put three games on the screen at the same time each Sunday, there is almost always an official on at least one screen. Many times we see an official on all three at the same time. Sometimes it’s four.

Maybe it is a problem of vanity, and the officials like the screen time.

Maybe it is a problem of incompetence. That seems like a clear possibility with some of the calls we saw last week alone.

More likely, though, it is a problem of leadership.

It wasn’t this bad before Riveron took over. He has to go before his officials drive us all to drink.

Speaking of reasons to drink, last week I had another respectable week. I went 10-6 straight up, bringing my season record to 130-78. I was 9-7 against the spread, bringing me closer to coin-toss level of expertise at 101-105-2.

Following are my Week 15 picks. The lines are from ESPN, the Alberto Riveron of sports networks.

Thursday night
Los Angeles Chargers (plus 3.5) at Kansas City

The Game of the Year of the Week has the AFC West title hanging in the balance.

Boy Wonder Patrick Mahomes passed for four touchdowns in a 38-28 win at Los Angeles in the season opener. He’s only getting better.

Chefs by 6

Houston (minus 6) at New York Jets

Rookie Sam Darnold led the Jets to their first victory since Oct. 14 last week. On the same day, the Texans lost for the first time since Sept. 23.

Notice the difference?

Texans by 10

Cleveland (plus 3) at Denver
Here’s a stat for you: The Browns are 3-2 since firing Hue Jackson. The Bengals are 0-4 since hiring the former Browns head coach as an assistant.


Browns by 2

Green Bay (plus 6) at Chicago

That Aaron Rodgers, the world’s worst brother, played his first good game in two months right after the Packers fired Mike McCarthy says a lot more about the quarterback than it does the coach.

Bears by 11

Arizona (no line) at Atlanta
No line means nobody cares.

Atlanta by 3

Detroit (plus 2.5) at Buffalo
Gee, I wonder why didn’t NBC flex this one to Sunday night.

That was sarcasm, by the way.

Bills by 4

Oakland (plus 3) at Cincinnati
Some really smart writer told you last week that the Raiders would beat the Steelers.

Hmm, who was that genius?

Raiders by 7

Dallas (no line) at Indianapolis
Andrew Luck and Co. stopped a winning streak for one Texas team last week.

Make it 2 for 2.

Colts by 8

Miami (plus 7) at Minnesota
The Dolphins are 1-5 on the road, but they are still relevant thanks to last week’s “Miami Miracle.”

The “miracle,” by the way, was that the Patriots were dumb enough to use an oft-injured tight end as a defensive back on the game-winning play.

Vikings by just 3

Tennessee (plus 3) at New York Giants
Once 1-7, the Giants actually have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs.

Giants by 5

Washington (plus 7) at Jacksonville
If you thought Jacksonville’s season went off the rails, you should take a look at what’s going on in the nation’s capital.

Jags by 6

Tampa Bay (plus 7.5) at Baltimore
With Lamar Jackson running the show, the Joe Flacco era is apparently over in Baltimore.

Ravens by 13

Seattle (plus 4.5) at San Francisco
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is the only person shown on TV more than officials. With his Seahawks on a four-game winning streak — including a 43-16 rout of the 49ers two weeks ago — it is only going to get worse.

Seahawks by 7

New England (minus 2) at Pittsburgh
Seriously, Gronk at defensive back? On the last play of the game? On the Miami 31-yard line? Against a quarterback who missed most of the season with a shoulder injury?

The Patriots don’t deserve to win. Plus, the Steelers haven’t looked this desperate since the last time Big Ben was accused of sexual assault.

Steelers by 1

Sunday night
Philadelphia (plus 11) at Los Angeles Rams

Two weeks after putting up 54 on the Chefs, the Rams scored 6 points against the Monsters of the Midway.

Nick Foles, who has the best name in football, is coming to the rescue of the Eagles, too.

Take the points.

Rams by just 4

Monday night
New Orleans (minus 6) at Carolina

Despite losing five in a row, the Panthers can still make the playoffs, and the Saints aren’t the same team outside on grass.


Panthers by 2

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