We’ve been saying this since the pre-season, but after this weekend’s games (and particularly the Monday night junk show that we all witnessed), it’s become more than painfully obvious that the replacement officials charged with policing the multi-billion dollar NFL are in over their heads … and it’s having a very real affect on the quality of the product on the field.
And unfortunately, it seems that Roger Goodell just doesn’t care.
Last night’s Falcons-Broncos game put a national spotlight on the problem, as the scab officials bumbled their way through an hour-long first quarter, clearly unable to handle the speed or intensity of the game as it unfolded before them. At one point, there was a 6-minute delay in the action after players got into a shoving match on the field after a fumble, and the replacements struggled to restore order (or make a definitive call on the recovery). The scene has been described as “chaotic”, with MNF announcer Mike Tirico finally breaking down and saying, ”Honestly. It’s embarrassing. The command and control of this game is gone”.
Later, the replacements showed their lack of grasp on the pro rule book with a couple of egregious spots. Toward the end of the half, the Broncos were awarded 10 yards for a defensive holding penalty against Atlanta – an infraction that only carries a 5-yard penalty in the NFL (it’s 10 yards in college). In the third quarter, with Atlanta driving in their no-huddle offense, the game was paused again while the officials sorted out the spot on another defensive holding penalty. This one had been incorrectly spotted from the previous spot, instead of the spot of the foul as NFL rules dictate.
So even when these officials ultimately got the call right (with the help of the on-field NFL officiating supervisor), it completely interfered with the flow of the game, rendering it nearly unwatchable.
Tonight’s 49ers-Steelers Monday Night Football contest was delayed prior to kickoff when a transformer exploded at Candlestick Park, plunging the stadium into darkness. The explosion was captured by ESPN’s aerial cameras, and was converted into glorious GIF format by the ever-awesome GIFulmination:
The first outage came at 5:19pm local time, delaying the start of the game for 20 minutes before power returned. But early in the second quarter, with the 49ers leading 6-0, the lights went out again. This time, the delay lasted 16 minutes before play resumed.
Steelers LB James Harrison, serving his one-game suspension, chimed in via Twitter:
If I cant play then can’t nobody play… Lights out!
RIP Don Meredith.
In preparation for tomorrow’s game featuring the same two teams, and just because it’s awesome, we bring you this classic 1990 defensive struggle between the 10-1 New York Giants and 10-1 San Francisco 49ers.
In it, we get a brilliant MNF broadcast with Michaels, Gifford and Dierdorf, featuring (among other greats) Joe Montana, Lawrence Taylor, Jerry Rice, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. And although the game didn’t see a lot of touchdowns, you’re watching one of the great offenses of its time squaring off against one of the best defenses in what would be a preview of that year’s NFC Championship game. It just works on so many levels.
So settle in and enjoy the full game … via YouTube user DaveMeggett, in all 13 glorious parts:
We’ll be honest, we didn’t really watch last night’s Jets-Dolphins game, and by most accounts it was a major suckfest with the Jets proving to be less sucky, so we don’t feel too bad about that.
But when we heard that ESPN enlisted Jets superfan “Fireman Ed” Anzalone to do the Monday Night intro honors, we knew we had to see what they came up with. In their continuing effort to replace the erstwhile Hank Williams’ Jr., ESPN has switched gears from his rauckus theme song to focus on the host cities with more solemn spoken word tributes.
This week’s effort focused on the passion and loyalty of the Jets fans, with the 52-year old retired New York firefighter doing the honors:
VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP
Following the big Hank Williams Jr. controversy from last week, ESPN dropped the popular singer and his long-standing theme song from Monday Night Football, leaving the nation wondering how they would get ready for some football each week moving forward.
Well for last night’s Lions-Bears game, former Lion great Barry Sanders handled the intro duties for MNF, narrating over the sights and sounds of Detroit. It’s a format that ESPN is likely to employ for the remainder of the season, and let’s just say the piece more than sufficed on such short notice. It wasn’t earth-shattering or anything, but I’m not sure anyone ever tuned in to hear Hank Williams Jr., and this puts the focus back where it belongs – on the game, and the host cities for each contest.
Here’s what Sanders’ had to say in the intro:
“Detroit’s soul isn’t in the streets of the city. It’s in the hearts of the people. I know. I played here for 10 years.
“Right now for the Lions, life is good. But like this town, they won’t rest. They’ll work, they’ll sweat, they’ll fight.
“Detroit doesn’t pat itself on the back, it gets the job done. Especially tonight, on ‘Monday Night Football.’ “
WATCH SANDERS’ MNF INTRO AFTER THE JUMP
In a move that may leave it’s viewers woefully unprepared for some football, ESPN and Hank Williams, Jr. have ended their relationship on the heels of the Monday Night Football theme singer’s controversial comments earlier this week. In case you missed it, Williams compared President Obama to Hitler on Fox News Monday Morning (video). From ESPN.com:
In an interview Monday on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” Williams, unprompted, said of Obama’s outing on the links with House Speaker John Boehner: “It’d be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu.”
Asked to clarify, Williams said, “They’re the enemy,” adding that by “they” he meant Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
This, not surprisingly, didn’t sit well with a lot of people. So after pulling his iconic “Are You Ready For Some Football?” theme song from that night’s broadcast, the network has officially cut ties with Bocephus, his song and his rowdy friends, with both parties taking credit for the decision.
ESPN relased this statement on Thursday:
“We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams, Jr. We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue.”
But Williams released his own statement on his website, where he says he’s packing up his song and going home, citing First Amendment infringement:
“After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision. By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It’s been a great run.” — Hank Williams Jr
Regardless of whose decision it was, this leaves MNF without a theme song, having used Williams’ “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” as the basic for their intros since 1989, with the lyrics changing each week for each specific matchup. And once again, Stephen Colbert is here to put things into perspective:
VIDEO, INCLUDING WILLIAMS’ ORIGINAL COMMENTS AFTER THE JUMP
During tonight’s Giants-Rams game, the momentum-turning play in the first half came when Giants LB Michael Boley scooped up the backward pass from Sam Bradford to Cadillac Williams and ran 65 yards for the touchdown. It was a great heads up play by the veteran, but after scoring, Boley also provided this bonus highlight when he unloaded the football toward the cameraman, which ricocheted off the head of a hapless Monday Night Football PA (or stadium employee … we’re not really sure), and directly into the camera itself:
UPDATE: The victim has been identified as Giants video intern Ryan Brown
Ouch. That’s gonna leave a mark. And while we can’t help feel for the poor SOB in the white, we also can’t help but appreciate the two-for-one shot by Boley. That’s just impressive, right there.
GIF AFTER THE JUMP
It was 30 years ago today that John Lennon was shot and killed outside his apartment building in Manhattan, a brilliant artist taken too early from this life by a madman. Most of us first heard about Lennon’s death during a Monday Night Football broadcast, in which the legendary Howard Cosell was faced with the difficult task of breaking this tragic news to the world.
ESPN’s Outside the Lines recently released this fascinating behind-the-scenes audio of Cosell and his broadcast partner Frank Gifford receiving the news during a commercial timeout:
It’s an amazing insight to hear Cosell struggle with how he’s going to fit the newsflash into the flow of the game, and ask his producers how to handle it. But perhaps more interesting is Gifford stepping in as the voice of reason, imploring Cosell that it was their duty to broadcast the news:
“If we know it, we’ve gotta do it … Don’t hang on it. It’s a tragic moment gonna and this is going to shake up the whole world.”
And the rest, as they say, is history …
WATCH THE MNF BROADCAST OF COSELL ANNOUNCING LENNON’S DEATH AFTER THE JUMP
No, not that Jaws. We’re talking about Monday Night Football color commentator, noted creepy smiler and former Philadelphia Eagles QB, Ron Jaworski. Check out Houston Texans WR David Anderson’s spot-on impression of Jaworski during one of his famed NFL film breakdown sessions:
[Via Hot Clicks]
Some fed-up Browns fans are organizing a”late arrival” to the team’s November 16th Monday Night Football game against the Baltimore Ravens. The letter below, by “Dawg Pound Mike,” urges fans to stay away from their seats until after kickoff, to make it clear to the team, the league, and the world, that they are “tired of this product on the field.”
Head Honcho of The Orange and Brown Report, Barry McBride said it best: “An empty stadium is embarrassing, sure, but to who?”
Below is a version of the email that’s being passed around. All-caps! Shouting!
Hello Browns Backers!!
WE ARE TIRED OF THE LOSSES! WE ARE TIRED OF SEEING EACH YEAR COME AND GO AND SEE NO IMPROVEMENT AND THE WORST FOOTBALL EVER!! IT’S OUR TIME TO TAKE BACK OUR TEAM AGAIN!! SO MANY PLAYERS HAVE MADE THIS A GREAT ORGANIZATION IN THE PAST, AND IT WAS AN HONOR TO WEAR THE ORANGE AND BROWN, TO ONLY TO SEE THIS HAPPEN TO OUR ORGANIZATION? WELL NO MORE! OUR FANS NEED TO UNITE AND SHOW EVERYONE WE HAVE A SAY AND WE WILL BE HEARD AND WE ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!!
ON MONDAY NOVEMBER 16TH 2009 MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL…DONT GO TO YOUR SEATS TILL KICKOFF!! STAY IN THE CONCORSE, STAY OUTSIDE…BUT DONT GET TO YOUR SEATS TILL AFTER KICKOFF! SHOW THE NFL, SHOW THE WORLD WE ARE TIRED OF THIS PRODUCT ON THE FIELD AND WE DEMAND BETTER AND WE WANT A CHANGE!! WE WANT TO SEND A “STATEMENT” TO THE ORGANIZATION THAT WE ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS NO MORE!! OUR FANS ARE THE BEST IN THE NFL AND WE “DESERVE” BETTER!! PLEASE UNITE AND MAKE THIS HAPPEN. BUY A TICKET FOR THE GAME AND GO AND SUPPORT OUR PLAYERS BUT DONT GET TO YOUR SEAT TILL AFTER THE OPENING KICKOFF! WE WANT THE STADIUM EMPTY AT KICKOFF!! THIS IS OUR STATEMENT!!
PLEASE GO TO WWW.DAWGPOUNDMIKE.COM AND LET US KNOW YOU ARE IN!! PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS “LATE WALK IN”
WE WANT TO GET THIS MESSAGE OUT AND SEND A STATEMENT TO THE BROWNS THAT WE WANT OUR TEAM BACK!
Thanks and GO BROWNS and also GO BROWNS FANS!!
Are you inspired yet?