On Monday night, referee Tony Corrente and his crew made multiple bad calls. Corrente personally was responsible for two major moments, a controversial low block that took a touchdown off the board for Chicago and a sketchy taunting call that included Corrente throwing a hip into Cassius Marsh just before throwing the flag.
Both calls were very bad. In his pool report, Corrente said whatever he had to say to justify the decisions he made, no matter how factually inaccurate his contentions were.
Corrente’s antics prove yet again the value of a sky judge/booth umpire who would have bridged the gap between the TV feed and the decisions made in the moment by the on-field officials. In a situation like the one that emerged last night, it’s the kind of thing that justifies suspicion that the fix is in.
The fix isn’t in. The NFL doesn’t predetermine the outcome of games. In large part because it couldn’t pull it off without someone blabbing.
But that doesn’t keep people from thinking the fix is in. And it doesn’t keep situations like the one that played out last night from making people think the fix is in.
Perception is reality. The more that people perceive there’s a predetermined result, the more of a problem it becomes for the NFL.
That’s why it’s critical for the league to improve its officiating function. Eventually, as legalized gambling spreads, one big scandal will become the big scandal that gets Congress to create an agency that will exercise oversight as to the NFL. When that happens, that won’t be good for the NFL.
The only way the NFL can delay that outcome is to do everything it can to improve its officiating function before someone else forces them to do it.