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.