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League’s decision not to fine Williams makes plenty of sense, for the wrong reasons

Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

I missed the news of the decision not to fine Ravens cornerback Cary Williams for shoving an official during the Super Bowl because I took Mrs. PFT to see Silver Linings Playbook.

You know, the movie starring Bradley Cooper that Bradley Cooper was promoting last year in part with an appearance on Rich Eisen’s podcast that was scrubbed completely by the NFL because Robert DeNiro’s character plays a Philly “bookmaker” who for some reason always needs the Eagles to win, which makes zero sense because typically the local bettors put more money on the home team, which makes the bookies root for the home team to lose.

Anyway, where was I?

Right, Cary Williams.  There’s a common thread between the Silver Linings thing and the non-fine for Cary Williams.  All too often, it’s all about appearances for the NFL.  By not fining Williams, the NFL draws less attention to the fact that Williams did something for which he was neither flagged nor ejected, both of which should have happened.

Think about it.  By confirming on a Saturday night that Williams won’t be fined, the story will barely register on the national radar screen.  But if the NFL had fined Williams, it would have landed on the Associated Press wire and everyone would have known about it and perhaps eventually more members of the media would have been pointing out that the Ravens shouldn’t have had the services of Cary Williams for the balance of the game.

Or, as one source with knowledge of how things get done put it more succinctly, the decision not to fine Williams is “just more of the farce that led to [referee Jerome] Boger getting the game,” and “now they’re propping up him and his crew.”

Boger was a controversial choice to preside over the game, with some insisting that he lacked the objective qualifications and that, even if he possessed the prerequisites, he clearly wasn’t the best NFL referee from the 2012 season.

In this specific case, it’s even more important than usual to not draw attention to any officiating deficiencies, because plenty of 49ers fans (and players and coaches) continue to insist that Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith intefered with 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree on San Fran’s final play from scrimmage.  If Williams had been ejected, the guy his replacement was covering possibly would have been wide open on that play.

And on plenty of others.

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48 Responses to “League’s decision not to fine Williams makes plenty of sense, for the wrong reasons”
  1. der6495 says: Feb 9, 2013 10:53 PM

    Belichick gets 50K, Williams nothing. Seems about right.

  2. urlacher54 says: Feb 9, 2013 10:57 PM

    Boger is the most timid referee I have ever seen. I could have sworn that he was about to mess his drawers every time he had to turn on his mic to reveal his team’s ruling.

    Was it just me?

  3. dirk504 says: Feb 9, 2013 11:01 PM

    It’s pretty obvious that the Ravens came out strong in the Super Bowl. It’s also pretty obvious that the refs were giving Baltimore the benefit of the doubt all game. When the Niners came back, the refs turned blind eyes to the BS like Reed offsides on the 2pt conversion, PI when Crabtree was blatantly held, and holding on the last punt of the game. The NFL would like to sweep this under the rug and move on, but the fact is, the 49ers got screwed big time. Pretty sad that NFL fans were robbed out of a great ending to a really good game. I’m neutral, but I still don’t know who the better team is. Probably the 49ers, since they battled the refs AND the Ravens.

  4. Deb says: Feb 9, 2013 11:02 PM

    Flagging is fine. I don’t think any player should be ejected from the Super Bowl unless he does something really out there–like coming off the bench to tackle a player on the field ;)

    On the other hand … I love it when you point out Goodell’s rampant hypocrisy, so what a delicious article! By all means, carry on!

  5. joe6606 says: Feb 9, 2013 11:05 PM

    what I found interesting was that CBS didnt talk about nor show the replay of the shove AT ALL during the SB.

    I suspect God-dell ordered CBS not to do so.

  6. iamthefootballjerk says: Feb 9, 2013 11:08 PM

    Dear Florio and the rest of you Ravens haters, the Lombardi trophy is still at the castle. Now kiss my purple bell end.

  7. cometkazie says: Feb 9, 2013 11:09 PM

    Well put, Mike.

  8. mdd913 says: Feb 9, 2013 11:09 PM

    NFL is far more concerned with PR and making the public believe they’re trying to do the right thing, than actually trying to do the right thing. Goodell manipulates the media completely, like any good dictator.

  9. edgarpoe3 says: Feb 9, 2013 11:14 PM

    Seriously, can’t we just enjoy a great game that went down to the wire instead of the constant bickering back and forth?

  10. sdisme says: Feb 9, 2013 11:15 PM

    Not sure we can stretch this to Williams not being fined to protect the poor decision of having Boger referee the Super Bowl.

    The league office is notorious for having inconsistent fines, rules & penalties for different players. I like to believe it’s just incompetence and not corruption.

    At least thinking this keeps the game fun and justifies my season tickets and other expenses on the game. Admittedly it’s getting harder, and I’m scared that the owners will wake up one day to a league controversy so big that they wont just be able to just point the finger and make changes. But they seem content to ignore as long as the checks get bigger.

  11. Stiller43 says: Feb 9, 2013 11:23 PM

    Gore gets fined for his socks being low, this guy two hand shoves a ref and gets nothing. Nice.

  12. ppdoc13 says: Feb 9, 2013 11:27 PM

    It is amazing how some people can pick out one play and say it was the reason, we wiz robbed.

    Booger was a bad choice. But the calls were bad all the way around . Flacco was hit out of bounds. No call. Torrey was mugged by culliver(?) on almost every play and it was never called. Ngata was subject to chop blocks on at least 3 occasions, all never called.

    All SF had to do to win the game was to keep jacoby from slicing right up the middle through their STs or let Colin try to run it in at games end. But young harbs was too cute. Coaching decisions lost them that game. How did they not realize we were going to run around in the end zone waste time and take a safety? That is plain poor coaching.

    Bottom line- we won, they lost and in 5 years no one will care if jimmy smith held Crabtree at the end on what was frankly an uncatchable ball.

    Get over it. Do what we did and use it as motivation to win next year. But hope we don’t show up, cause big brother has little brothers number.

  13. rhone16 says: Feb 9, 2013 11:34 PM

    It’s sad that politics is more important than rules for the NFL. The entire game was officiated as if the refs were afraid of taking heat for a penalty deciding the game. “Just let them play” sounds nice in theory, until a team catches on and starts openly thumbing its nose at the rules to get an advantage.

  14. CKL says: Feb 10, 2013 12:01 AM

    Well Boger didn’t eject Newton from the game when he pushed Boger either. So at least he’s consistently wrong.

    I don’t agree that something that’s a certain penalty level in any other game shouldn’t be so for the SB. I don’t care what the magnitude of the game is, rules are rules. And maybe it should be on coaches and players to rein in their own hotheadedness instead.

    I hate that the league does stuff so blatantly for appearance and PC sake. It’s good to know though.

  15. jiggy3198 says: Feb 10, 2013 12:05 AM

    Everybody is a hater. Baltimore is you Super Bowl champs. Best team over the past five years bar none. Here’s a stat for all you haters. Baltimore has had a football team for a total if 48 years and been in the championship for 7 of those years. That’s about 15% of football championships have included a Baltimore franchise pretty impressive. Steelers can say what they want but Baltimore has 5 nfl/Super Bowl championships. Steelers have six. Since 2000 Baltimore and Pittsburg have the same number if superbowls. Next year we will tie Pittsburg.

  16. kokoskmr says: Feb 10, 2013 12:26 AM

    It’s getting to the point where you don’t need to look at the final score to tell who won and who lost. You just have to watch the post game and see which team complains about the officiating most to know who lost.

    Vince Lombardi: “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.”
    Me: “Show me the team that insists they were ‘jobbed’ by the refs, and I’ll show you a loser”

  17. mullman76 says: Feb 10, 2013 12:33 AM

    Check the rules 9er fans: A holding in the end zone results in a safety. Either way, it was going to be a safety.

    Also, Williams should not have been ejected.

  18. bobhk says: Feb 10, 2013 12:35 AM

    I thought that the (lack of) PI call was ticky tacky but it’s subjective. But this Williams thing really makes me think that the niners got jobbed.
    imagine if the ravens had to play 2/3 games without starting corner. The niners were coming on string towards the end and might have won. The niners were finishing strong. Refs gave the game to the refs

  19. johnnyb1976 says: Feb 10, 2013 12:37 AM

    Back in the regular season a disgruntled Cam Newton bumped referee Jerome Boger after a call didn’t go Cams way. Makes me think that Mr Boger doesn’t have the balls to throw a guy out of the game.

  20. boyshole25 says: Feb 10, 2013 12:42 AM

    The fix was in on this one believe me…..

  21. Derwin Worrell says: Feb 10, 2013 1:51 AM

    For the record. Reed wasn’t offside on the 2 pt conversion. That was replayed and slowed down here in New York and The ball moved before Reed did. Secondly the corner has every right to put his hands on the receiver within 5 yards. The ball was on the 5 yard line and Crabtree ran directly into the corner. Why? If he was suppose to be running a fade pattern. He was looking to push off the corner. Jimmy Smith said not today. Great play. Great game for the nation. Sf wants a bailout call because there QB had no call when he saw the Ravens defense in cover 0. Suspect!

  22. 9erfan49 says: Feb 10, 2013 2:24 AM

    There needs to be a better way to issue fines. $10,500 for wearing short socks, 10K for throwing a ball into the stands, 50K for a coach shoving a replacement ref who has no business refereeing, 0 for a player shoving a real ref during the Super Bowl. Absolutely no consistency.

    Also, Silver Linings Playbook = movie of the year

  23. 9erfan49 says: Feb 10, 2013 2:26 AM

    And what type of example is the NFL setting for young athletes?

  24. skeebo80 says: Feb 10, 2013 2:40 AM

    NFL is following in boxing footsteps

  25. lflib69 says: Feb 10, 2013 3:16 AM

    Just another reason to support that the Ravens didn’t get in by talent but help from the NFL. Brandon Lloyd gets a penalty for throwing the ball to the Ref in a disrespectful manner but this Dou che shoves a Ref and nothing….no….this Superbowl wasn’t fixed.

  26. al40110 says: Feb 10, 2013 4:43 AM

    If rules do not apply during the SB, why should they apply during the regular season?

  27. oaktown49er says: Feb 10, 2013 5:25 AM

    I was thinking the same thing when I saw the title of the article. I am a die hard 49er fan so I admit my opinion is biased. However I just can’t get over how badly this game was officiated. Yes there was a clear pass interference that wasn’t called on the 49ers and another possible one against Boldin but Williams should have been ejected or at least flagged, Bruce Miller was clearly held on the kickoff return, not to mention the last series and all we know about that. The refs didn’t want to throw the flags and decide the game (and it would not have), so they kept them in their pocket and decided the game. Even Ravens fans can’t feel great about this one, their team played a great game and maybe could have won on their own, but we’ll never know.

  28. blackqbwhiterb says: Feb 10, 2013 6:37 AM

    This is brilliant insight, great article… In all likelihood I believe you’re spot on. What I’m missing is, why was Boger a bad choice? Did he have some sort of conflict of interest I missed reading about?

  29. akshunj says: Feb 10, 2013 7:41 AM

    Niners just can’t win the big one…

  30. ottomanismydog says: Feb 10, 2013 8:04 AM

    Much like XL, Raven fans will have to deal with the 49ers fans blaming the refs for years to come. In 60 minutes of football both teams had plenty of opportunities to win.

  31. jpb12 says: Feb 10, 2013 8:30 AM

    Conspiracy.

  32. arm57romg says: Feb 10, 2013 8:38 AM

    Sour Grapes from every 9ers fan. Get over it, you lost. Take it with Pride.

  33. robert87653 says: Feb 10, 2013 8:54 AM

    One of the worse officiated games. With all the money the NFL makes you think they could find competent officials.

  34. cometkazie says: Feb 10, 2013 8:55 AM

    Deb says:
    Feb 9, 2013 11:02 PM
    Flagging is fine. I don’t think any player should be ejected from the Super Bowl unless he does something really out there–like coming off the bench to tackle a player on the field.
    +-+-+

    Exactly. Officiating changes as the game goes on, also.

    Pay attention.

  35. sonoco says: Feb 10, 2013 9:38 AM

    Zero integrity. Well played NFL. I feel like a chump, and so should everybody outside Baltimore.

  36. igfisbogus says: Feb 10, 2013 9:55 AM

    “because plenty of 49ers fans (and players and coaches) continue to insist that Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith intefered with 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree on San Fran’s final play from scrimmage.’

    Yet nearly every single NFL Analyst, former Ref, former player, etc. say that it was a great no call. Where are those quotes? In fact Crabtree had been pushing off all game. Just look at two plays earlier when he shoves Graham at the goal line. Please let it go. If it wasn’t for the power outage this was a blowout.

  37. igfisbogus says: Feb 10, 2013 9:58 AM

    “Much like XL, Raven fans will have to deal with the 49ers fans blaming the refs for years to come. In 60 minutes of football both teams had plenty of opportunities to win.”

    Exactly. Let’s not forget this game was a blowout until the mysterious power outage that completely changed momentum. San Fran fans should be thankful that the blackout helped prevent their team from being embarrassed.

  38. pillowporkers says: Feb 10, 2013 10:18 AM

    Does anyone else think Jerome Boger sounds like the creepy old guy from Family Guy that loves Chris when making his call?

    “Offsides”

  39. rap49er says: Feb 10, 2013 11:08 AM

    On the safety, the Ravens could hold, grab face masks, even hit the Niners with a tire iron and the result would have been the same. They need to change the rules so that when there’s just a few seconds left, a team can’t prosper by intentional fouls.

  40. kgbdk says: Feb 10, 2013 12:12 PM

    In a game against the Rams with playoff ramifications a couple years ago, Justin Smith got pushed by a referee and then instinctively shoved back with his left arm, not seeing the referee until the referee had already flipped out and thrown a flag, subsequently ejecting him from the game. Cary Williams did a lot worse than that in the Superbowl, looking straight at the referee before pushing him with two straight arms. The referee didn’t even penalize him or eject him.

    Later in the game, Williams broke up a pass to Ted Ginn in the endzone when he shouldn’t even have been in the game. Let us not forget the hold by two separate players on Bruce Miller that allowed Jacoby Jones to run right through Miller’s gap responsibility on the 2nd half TD return. Look up the stills and replay on Google, it’s quite absurd. The refs did a lousy job, and I would’ve thought that even if the Niners had won.

  41. lovefootball4life says: Feb 10, 2013 1:09 PM

    Pretty obvious by now Florio is a niners fan. This Super Bowl is done. We’ve all moved on, you should too.

  42. jikkle49 says: Feb 10, 2013 1:10 PM

    My main thing was the holding at the end with the Safety. I mean I know the results are the same but man at least call actually call the penalty to be professional instead of adding more controversy to the officiating.

    And the NFL should just fix that already since it’s a simple fix. If under 30 seconds to go in the game there is an offensive penalty on a safety the clock is reset to the time of the snap so no time is loss when it’s punted. That way teams aren’t going to hold and if they do they get punished for it.

  43. bobhk says: Feb 10, 2013 1:25 PM

    @arm57romg says:
    Feb 10, 2013 8:38 AM
    Sour Grapes from every 9ers fan. Get over it, you lost. Take it with Pride.
    ————-
    We can take pride knowing that the niners played a straight up game. Can you guys? Knowing that you should have had one less staring corner in the game.
    I would let everything else (PI, holding calls) slide. But Williams should have been out of the game. There is no grey area. You can’t tell me that the Ravens would have done as well without a starting corner.

    So, I’m not surprised that you have nothing more intelligent to say and have to settle for “sour grapes”.

  44. xx49ers4lifexx says: Feb 10, 2013 2:11 PM

    Pretty sad when this is the NFL biggest national televised game and they botched it! The NFL says they are trying to make the league a respectful and reputable league and this is the product they give us. I for one am so tired of these Refs not having to be accountable for there performance.

    Would the lack of the calls changed the outcome? Who knows. We lost and it hurts! But a foul is a foul and no matter how big the stage is, you call it! This by far was the worst officiating in a Super Bowl.

    The saddest part is we the fans suffer from it the most. It is our love and support for the game that funds it. From season tickets to buying merchandise.

    Pretty sad though that Gore can get fined 10,500.00 for socks being to low, but someone who blatantly shoves a Ref gets “NOTHING” so my words to the NFL is: C’mon man

    I congratulate the Ravens on their win and as A die hard Niner fan I hope it dont take another 18years to get back to the dance. “GO NINERS” What a great season…

  45. mmym1975 says: Feb 10, 2013 2:53 PM

    Flaccos tackle comment reflects the refs and how the game was managed by the refs. Very unprofessional approach by the league to display this sloppiness by the refs.

  46. joeknowsnada says: Feb 10, 2013 3:40 PM

    49ers lost – due to bad coaching on offense at the end of the game. Further, Jim Harbaugh didn’t cry or scream when his team got the bennie of a non-call the game before, right? No “fix” – if anything, you could say the blackout was a fix, that allowed 49ers to re-group and come out blazing….Refs ALWAYS swallow the whistle, whether it’s hockey, basketball or football, during “The BIG Game.” See TMQ’s comments, included here, which say it better than I could -

    “…Think what’s happened here. Three straight plays from the Baltimore 5: Kaepernick, one of the most dangerous players in the sport, has not rushed. Gore hasn’t touched the ball. Three straight pass attempts to the same guy, Crabtree, and all three toward the right corner. Inexperienced right-handed quarterbacks are more comfortable throwing to their right. The Ravens’ defense was expecting passes, and passes to the right — just what San Francisco delivered.”

    And about that non-call for dee holding –

    …”Harbaugh/West thought defensive holding should have been called on the fourth-and-goal. It could have been, but Crabtree was pushing off too, and on the opposite side of the field, San Francisco receiver A.J. Jenkins pretty much threw his defender to the ground, which could have been flagged.”

    And lastly –

    …”Wasn’t it just two weeks ago that the Niners got away with some grabbing on Atlanta’s fourth-and-4 at the end? Don’t recall Harbaugh/West becoming hysterical about that call. Officials don’t want to decide games, especially playoff games. They should not allow more contact in the postseason than in the regular season, but the reality is, they do. A full-time professional coach should know this, and know it’s a reason why, on fourth-and-goal from the 5 to win the Super Bowl, a fade is a weak call.”

    And, I saw at least two instances of roughing the passer by 49ers Dee that was not called, either. So, on balance, it is what it is. Not perfect, but very entertaining, and either team deserved to win it, and could have. Ravens won, end of story.

  47. frankyvito says: Feb 11, 2013 12:03 AM

    Stop bringing up the stupid ass Falcons play. That was 4th & 4. Watch the replay. The jam CLEARLY was in front of the FOX first down marker. It was legal. Stop. I’m a 9ers fan. Do I feel with the right call we score? Yes. Do I have any confidence our D woulda stopped them? No. But that’s not the point. The point is we were ALL robbed of seeing how it would’ve played out. That’s the saddest part. Let the players decide? They did. Jimmy Smith decided he couldn’t cover Crabtree without holding. Should’ve been a flag.

  48. yousuxxors says: Feb 11, 2013 3:19 AM

    oh yea crabtree was holding onto him to could of went either way

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