The NFL is riddled with conspiracies and fan suspicions of rigged games. We can’t help it, even myself as a Niners fan will go to my grave saying that this past Super Bowl was rigged and it was the NFL’s mission to do whatever it took to make Patrick Mahomes the face of the league. But that’s for another time.
I won’t be getting into that however in this blog, simply because too many times is the conspiracy told from the obvious perspectives. No one will listen to the 49ers fan bitching about the two BLATANT holding calls on Nick Bosa (one of which led to the “miraculous” throw by Mahomes on 3rd & long), the CLEAR CUT offside on the Chiefs defence late in the game, the missed pass interference call on Emmanuel Sanders, along with the bullshit offensive pass interference call on George Kittle and that’s not even mentioning the missed illegal hit to the head and late hit out of bounds on Jimmy G, the god damn quarterback. But again, that’s for another time.
No one will listen to that guy, no matter how right he is.
It’s understandable though, simply because the narrative is always written by the victors, and any other perspective thrown into the mix is viewed as biased against the commonly known narrative.
So let’s look at some of the biggest conspiracies in the NFL’s history, not from the perspectives of the bogus winners or sore losers, but instead from the unknown. Also, it’s been a month without sports so it’s about time we start thinking about the ‘what ifs’ and talk about conspiracy theories.
The Immaculate Reception
Let’s go way back in time with this one. Recognize this guy below? This Schmuck? You may recognize him from the iconic play known as ‘The Immaculate Reception’, which the NFL 100 committee made the NUMBER ONE play of the NFL’s 100 years in existence. They made the most fraudulent play of all-time the greatest play of all-time in a league that is fraudulent itself, ironic yet very fitting.
If you don’t know what happened look at the clip below of the 1972 Divisional round of the playoffs between the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The game is coming down to its final seconds, Raiders 7 Steelers 6. I wonder if they’ll have me on the field next week for the AFC Championship game or if I have to watch from the sidelines in this ridiculous uniform all day again. Plus officiating the AFC Championship will be the pinnacle of my career so far. Just imagine, the undefeated Miami Dolphins against the force that is the Oakland Raiders.
I wonder if this home crowd is gonna start a riot once this one is over. I mean, I don’t know the people of Pittsburgh too well, but they just saw the Pirates win the big one last year so maybe they’re satisfied.
Let’s see what the country boy Terry Bradshaw has here… Jeez he can work the pocket pretty well, he’s gotta get rid of it though or Jones is gonna pancake him.
There it goes.
HOLY what a hit, that ball just flew back 10 yards. Annnd there the ball falls… But Franco just scooped it off the ground!?
Are they not gonna blow the whistle? It’s a dead play!
There he goes, he’s gonna score. Fans are jumping on the field, what the hell is going on?
I gotta get in that discussion the officiating crew is in right now.
Back-up Ref: “Hey boys, the ball hit the ground did you not see that?”
Head Ref: “Are you sure, I couldn’t catch it from my angle!”
Linesman: “It was too close to call from my view, so I let it play out!”
Back Judge: “I couldn’t tell you if it was legal or not, my vision was blocked”
Head Ref: “Well regardless, are you seeing this right now? The whole stadium is pouring onto the field, the players on the sideline have rushed the end zone… We wouldn’t make it out of here alive if we reverse the call now…”
Back-up Ref: “I saw it, it hit the ground. I had the perfect angle, I swear.”
Head Ref: “It doesn’t matter what you think you saw, you weren’t on the field, we can’t have an emergency referee make a call like this, it’s going to have to stand.”
Back-up Ref: “Okay lets say the ball didn’t hit the ground, it’s still an illegal play. Fuqua touched the ball when he had it hit out of his hands, then Harris touched it when he caught it. That’s illegal. Two guys can’t touch the ball in the same play, c’mon Fred you know Madden is going to be in your ear about that.”
Head Ref: “Hey I’m calling the game, not you”
Maybe it didn’t go down exactly like that, but the referees did consult with each other for 15 minutes.
What makes this play so interesting is that nobody knows if the ball hit the ground or not. Good ol’ fashioned 1970’s camera work, limited to a few camera angles, is the difference between the Raiders continuing their dominance and the Steelers getting a much needed spark to start what would end up becoming a ‘dynasty’.
Just look at the clip, there is no angle showing the ball. Even the back angle has the goal post blocking the view just as you come close to seeing where the ball is in relation to the ground. Footage that has been refined with better technology can’t even help uncover the unknown, the infamous picture above doesn’t even have the ball in the frame. JumboTrons didn’t become a thing until the late 80’s and it took several more years until challenges on instant replay became a part of the game. So there was no reference, just strictly naked-eye judgment. Nobody knows what happened.
Expect one person, Franco Harris.
But why should we trust him? Just because he’s on the winning side of the narrative? He’s even denied to answer the questions “did you really catch it?” and “was it an illegal play?” on some occasions.
Can’t trust a guy who dishes out “no comment” or takes something important like the truth of a football game to his grave.
But that’s besides the fact, because this notion that two players can’t touch the ball on the same play is true. Back then offences weren’t as complex as they are now with double passes and laterals, but that’s because they weren’t allowed too.
The rule book at the time stated “the first player to touch the pass, he only continues to be eligible for A [the Pittsburgh Steelers]”.
It’s a tough one to go down by, not to mention that game was 2 days before Christmas. As a football fan I am genuinely happy that this is no longer when the playoffs take place, because if my team lost around Christmas time like that, there is no chance in hell I’m talking to anyone over the holidays. I’d be locking myself in my room throwing darts at a Franco Harris poster till the New Year, Ray Finkle style.
The Tuck Rule
We can’t talk NFL conspiracies without bringing up the Bill Belichick led New England Patriots or the misfortunes the league has pinned on the Oakland Raiders. So why not merge the two together.
Commish: “Two minutes to go and this couldn’t be going any better. The fans are gonna eat this up; this kid Brady gets drafted in the 6th round, takes over for the Patriots two games into the season and finds himself putting together a game-winning drive to send them to the AFC Championship?”
Commish:“Talk about a Cinderella story. This is what the league needs more of, this we can sell. Think about it, with 9/11 just happening we can sell this remarkable season from New England as being what it takes to be a true Patriot. The country needs this.”
Commissioners Butt-Buddy: “Hey Paul, that sounds great and all but check this out.”
*Points to the replay of Woodson causing the fumble on Brady*
Commish: “Are you kidding me!? Okay hang on, it’s under two minutes they gotta review it anyways, give me a second.“
Commish: “Hey boys, we gotta reverse this call.”
Replay Command Center: “Paul it’s a fumble, I don’t think we can do much about it. Even Simms is calling the game over already.”
Commish: “His arm is moving forward, there’s an argument for a forward pass.”
Replay Command Center: “Actually… You might be on to something here. One of our guys has come across a rule here stating ‘When [an offensive] player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to TUCK it back toward his body’.”
Commish: Yes, do it. Tell the head referee to make the decision.
And that is how the Tuck Rule came to be, probably.
Even though technically the call made followed the rule book, this conspiracy does have some weight behind it. Also, this ridiculous ‘Tuck Rule’ was never used before this incident, so why now in the 2001 season?
As shitty as it sounds to stem this conspiracy from the tragedy that was 9/11, it makes sense. Plus, 9/11 itself is a conspiracy so I don’t feel as bad.
The tragedy occurred on September 11th and by the end of the month the New England Patriots were 0-2 and just lost their star quarterback Drew Bledsoe due to an injury. This was a sad time for Patriots around the nation, whether it be American citizens themselves or the New England organization.
But in comes the 199th pick of the NFL Draft, Tom Brady. In his first start on September 30th he led the Patriots to an underdog victory over the leagues high-powered Indianapolis Colts offence featuring Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. The month of September had ended with a glimmer of hope.
From there the Patriots went 11-5 and found themselves in the playoffs, what a great American Redemption story. It could only take a true American patriot to recover from hardships, right?
Well that plus a little of corruption, the American way.
Also, President Bush passed an Act a month after 9/11, that they thought would help protect it’s citizens from terrorism, called… Wait for it.
The Patriot Act.
Some people may think it’s just one game and shouldn’t matter that much. If the Raiders were good enough then this ONE game shouldn’t be a big deal. Well your wrong, this is major. The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that year, which sparked a dynasty.
Meanwhile, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden got traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that offseason, who ended up meeting the Raiders in the Super Bowl the next year. The Gruden led Bucs beat the Raiders by a million points that Super Bowl because Gruden knew everything about the Raiders.
So the Oakland Raiders franchise had to deal with a heartbreaking bullshit call in a playoff game in which they should have won, then the next year lose in the Super Bowl to their former coach, not only did they take a loss, but they got exposed.
That’s tough to bounce back from.
Thus the NFL ended up shaping like this;
New England Patriots: 6 Super Bowls
Oakland Raiders: Years of disappointment, struggling to recover.
Let’s just be grateful that ‘The Tuck Rule’ is no longer around, but unfortunately that wouldn’t stop the Patriots from being a part of controversy in other ways, with Spy-gate and Deflate-gate helping them win some more pivotal games.
Harbaugh Blackout Bowl
Had to cap this off with a 49ers conspiracy, but don’t worry I won’t be biased. That’s because we got a rare conspiracy here on our hands, a little double whammy.
This game was fixed not once, but twice.
Beyoncé: “Why the FUCK is everyone blaming me for the blackout.
PR Agent: “It’s okay we’ll get this sorted out trust me”
Beyoncé: I swear to God if I get death threats from some fat piece of shit football fan for this, I’m never considering doing a Halftime Show again.
PR Agent: “Relax, see look”
*Gives Beyonce phone*
PR Agent: People are already making memes on the lights turning off because your performance was so electric, this is actually a good thing for right now!”
Beyoncé: But what if that’s true! What if we fucked up some circuits or something… I don’t know, I didn’t go to college. But that could have happened, I think.
PR Agent: “I’m getting some of the Commissioners people on the phone now to see if we are actually at fault here, just relax for second, okay?”
“Hello? Yes this is Yvette.”
“Listen, what is going on with the light situation, people are starting to think this was the fault of our crew.”
“You guys actually do that? I thought my husband made that stuff up.”
“Well, just because we know doesn’t mean other people know we’re not in the wrong, Beyoncé doesn’t want to be on the wrong side of the Super Bowl history books.”
“What could you possibly say?”
“Okay, fine. We trust you.”
Beyoncé: “So what’s the situation?”
PR Agent: “Well, it appears as if the NFL shut down the lights on purpose…”
PR Agent: “Yeah, I know. But they were afraid of losing viewers to a blowout, especially with all the build up of the two coaches being brothers, they feel like this needs to be ‘must watch’ tv.”
Beyoncé: “So what are we gonna do?”
PR Agent: “Nothing, we keep our mouths shut about it and say that it had nothing to do with the performance.”
Beyoncé: “But what are they going to say?”
PR Agent: “They said they are going to come up with some bullshit to cover it up and to trust them.”
Beyoncé: “Gheeze. I don’t trust corrupt people like this, I don’t respect anyone who gets involved with these people.”
(The joke here is that Jay-Z now has ties with the NFL)
I always wondered why people try to point this conspiracy at Beyoncé, as if she would give a shit about the outcome of a football game. That’s also why I love this conspiracy, there are just so many people involved to point fingers at.
But the NFL attempting to make the game enjoyable worked out a little too well. After the blackout the 49ers did end up punting the ball and it did take a little while for them to mount a comeback, but nevertheless they almost erased a 28-6 deficit.
Late in the 4th quarter, the 49ers managed to narrow the lead to just 34-29.
So with the game on the line, the 49ers had a chance on 4th and goal to make Super Bowl history. Kaepernick threw up a fade to Crabtree in the back of the end zone and he… IS HELD UP! That is a clear pass interference call, are you fucking kidding me, where’s the flag?
Firmly in the referee’s pocket.
Simply because the NFL knew if the Niners were to comeback and win after the blackout everyone would be up in flames about the game being fixed. The refs had to let it go and simply make the game just exciting enough for people to stick around till the end.
And that folks is the NFL as we know it.
But do we love it? YES.
I will throw an absolute fit if the NFL can’t happen this Fall because of the coronavirus. I need this. We need this.
As much as we hate the very likely truth that games are fixed, we always come back for more.
It’s like that piece of shit girlfriend or boyfriend that cheats on you but they have a lot of money and cool stuff like a couple catchy theme songs on major networks, plus people worship them on Sunday’s in the Fall and all your friends love her so they’ll pick her over you anyways.
Plus who doesn’t love a conspiracy theory, it helps some of us sleep at night.
But it’s time we start asking the right people if we want the right answers. Forget asking Franco Harris about the Immaculate Reception or Charles Woodson about the Tuck Rule fumble and even Beyoncé about the Super Bowl.
We need to ask the people who have perspectives that aren’t coming out of the mouth of a sore loser or asshole victor.