The start of the NFL season looked extremely promising for fans of the Detroit Lions near the conclusion of their game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Calvin Johnson appeared to have made a tremendous catch in the corner of the end zone. Upon further review, officials at the game negated the outstanding play because players must maintain control of the ball for the entire process of the catch. I must have been watching different games then for the past twenty-five years because I cannot begin to count how many times players have bobbled the ball and come down with possession when they eventually maintained control.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz must be livid at this call, but he was able to maintain composure in his postgame press conference. This is a smart decision because he’s able to now retain his entire salary for coaching this week’s game; Because he successfully avoided the fine that would come from criticizing the incompetence of the officiating.
By Patrick Herbert
It is all not doom and gloom for Lions’ fans. Jahvid Best is the first Detroit rookie running back to score two touchdowns in his regular season debut in thirty years. In addition, quarterback Shaun Hill provided some spark at the end of the second half after taking over for Matthew Stafford.
The recent history of Michigan sports has been a rough road. The most glaring comparison of officiating malfeasance is when umpire Jim Joyce took away the perfect game from Detroit Tigers’ righthander Armando Galarraga earlier this season. At least he was able to obtain a new vehicle from the whole ordeal. All Calvin Johnson has to show for his effort is a loss to a division foe and sympathy from fans who see it on highlight shows. This is unfortunately a recent historical pattern for fans in the region.
The Detroit Red Wings and Pistons have been knocked off their respective pedestals lately. The Chicago Blackhawks are doing their best to start a new dynasty of their own much to the chagrin of the octopus throwing throngs who frequent Joe Louis Arena. The Pistons have lost key components in Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups. Neither winter team will probably return to greatness any time soon.
The Michigan Wolverines have struggled recently in two high profile sports: football and basketball. Rich Rodriguez and John Beilein both came from the West Virginia Mountaineers with promises of greatness. Neither has lived up to that hope of future prosperity. There are signs of improvement over at the Big House, but Beilein seems to have a long way to go. He does not seem to grasp that consistently hoisting three pointers is not a good strategy when the shooting percentage is anemic. At least the state has Michigan State Spartans basketball a couple hours drive from Detroit. Even though Tom Izzo has failed to bring home the big prize since 2000. He seems to be a fixture in the Final Four, and you never want to bet against him in March.
But yet AGAIN! they got hosed on a bad call in the Final Four last April. Butler’s Gordon Heyward himself, admitted that he fouled Draymond Green on the game’s final drive, a couple weeks after his Bulldogs eliminated the Spartans.
The fans in the region deserve better. If Schwartz is not going to confront the officiating, then someone who cannot be fined must. There is too much at stake in every NFL game. Comparatively, there are more than ten times as many major league baseball games for each team. Someone from the organization must stand up and be heard. This is the very circumstance that instant replay is supposed to remedy.