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Last night, in the game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, it was challenged whether there were too many men on the field for Chicago. After several minutes, referee Larry Nemmers came back to say that there weren't. Of course, by that time, John Madden had twice proven that there were 12 men visibly on the field, not 11. Why did it take the officials so long to count TO THE WRONG NUMBER?

Later, when packers coach Mike McCarthy challenged the spot of the ball on an apparent Bears' first down, after several minutes of staring at tape, Nemmers placed the ball about a foot backwards. This is not at all the full yard or more difference in the spot of the ball that the replay had shown. Though spotting the ball has always been a largely arbitrary action, why, when you have ample time to look at it, do you get it so wrong? To add insult to injury, the Packers lost a timeout over the "failed" challenge of the spot of the ball (because the re-spot following the replay review resulted in a first down anyway) despite the fact that the replay proved that the coach was correct in challenging and should not have resulted in a Bears first down.

Note, please, that when Nemmers placed the ball about a foot backwards, he was well aware that the Bears would still have the necessary yardage for a first down. He had just brought out the chains to measure the gain before the challenge. After moving the ball, he ordered the chains on the field and measured again. Since he had just measured, knowing full well the location of the first down marker, this second measurement was only for dramatic purposes as he revealed that the Bears still had a first down.

Two failed instant replay calls in favor of the Bears while playing a game in Green Bay? Unheard of!

After several years of provisional implementation, so-called "instant" replay was made a permanent part of the NFL game earlier this year. That's a travesty. It's one thing to get a call wrong on the field. Officials are human and prone to making mistakes. It's another thing altogether to stop a game and extend its length by minutes in order to get a call wrong while staring at a recording of a play. That's just inhumane and inexcusable.

Maybe Larry Nemmers, who has been an official in the NFL since 1985 and a referee since 1991 has just gotten so old that he can't see well anymore. But I suspect that it's more than that. Every year, the NFL delegates that their best (i.e. "fewest blown calls") officiating staff be on the field for the Super Bowl. Despite being a referee for 16 years, Nemmers has never been on the field at the end of January. By the way, before joining the NFL's part-time officiating staff, Nemmers was a high school principal in Elgin, Illinois, a suburb of -- guess where? -- Chicago! (The Chicago Bears, loser of last year's Super Bowl, came into the game with a 1-4 record, desperately needing a win to stay alive in the divisional rankings. They got it, thanks in no small part to you, Larry!)

Bah!

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We lost to Auburn. Sure, we had some bad calls go against us (such as Offensive Pass Interference 40 yards away from the play), but in the end, we gave up over 50 yards on 4th and 11 that put the game in their hands. We got what we deserved in the end. Bummer.

On the up side, the pre-game military parachutists (as pictured poorly above) landing out of the pitch-black night sky was way cool. It was like living through Red Dawn.

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To be continued...

 

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