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The NFL Officially has a Problem

The NFL Officially has a Problem

An Official Crisis?

The powers that be in the NFL are not happy.

The 24 hours after the Super Bowl have been not been dominated by talk of One for the Thumb, two of the longest plays in Super Bowl history, Jerome Bettis’ triumphant departure from the NFL, or even Big Ben posting the worst quarterback rating for a winning signal caller. Nobody’s even talking about the lame show that the ancient, washed up group formerly deserving of the title The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll put on at halftime.

No, the buzz is all about the officiating. That’s the absolute last thing that Tags and company want to be the talk of the town. And it’s not just the lunatic fringe on the message boards and call-in shows that are in an uproar over the zebras; the major newspapers and network TV have the story plastered all over the place as well. It’s enough to make Paul Tagliabue wish that there had been a wardrobe malfunction this year or wish that they had allowed the racier versions of the GoDaddy.com commercials to be shown, anything at all to take attention away from the guys in the striped shirts.

There were four calls that are drawing most of the attention today, calls that all went against Seattle and possibly cost them a net of some 18 points or more in a game that they lost by 11. Those four are the offensive pass interference on Darrell Jackson, the touchdown awarded to Roethlisberger just before halftime, the holding call on Seattle that called back a pass that went to the Steelers one, and the personal foul called on Matt Hasselbeck when he tackled the defender who had intercepted his pass.

They were all peculiar in their own way. The pass interference call was a late one, coming only after the Steeler defender turned and complained to the official, who had shown no inclination to throw a flag before that. The TD call on Big Ben’s run was also a delayed call. If the ball did indeed eke over the goal line as he was going down, why did the official not make the call immediately? Instead, he waited until Roethlisberger had pushed the ball over goal after he was clearly down. The holding call looked like nothing other than routine pass blocking and the cut block called on Hasselbeck was just a flat-out missed call.

This comes on top of a postseason filled with questionable calls, from a pass interference flag against New England to a reversal of an interception by the Steelers for which the league issued an apology.

The Redskins had more than their share of controversial calls in their games this year. In Denver, an apparent safety was overturned on replay under a questionable interpretation of the tuck rule. The call on Mike Alstott’s two-point conversion that represented the winning points during the regular season in Tampa Bay was just the last of several head-scratchers by the referee crew on that day.

The cumulative effect of all of this has been quite damaging to the NFL. An unscientific poll of members of the CPND Redskins Addiction Board here shows that a majority believes that NFL officials have performed with “alarming incompetence”. Anyone who is going to shell out money to attend an athletic event or invest the time to watch one on TV wants the outcome to be determined by the players, not by the officials. The more people perceive that the team that gets the calls is the one that wins, the less popular the game will be.

The worse news for Tagliabue is that people thinking that the referees are merely grossly incompetent is the better case scenario here. There are those who are calling the very integrity of the officials into question. Many of them are bitter Seahawk fans who probably will calm down and angry gamblers who gave the four. But not all of them are from the Pacific Northwest and not all of them are going to go back to watching football as usual.

I am not one to believe that there is any conspiracy to tilt the officiating towards one team or another. As a practical matter, there isn’t enough gain in having, say, the Steelers win to balance the risk of the incredible damage the league would suffer if word of any plot to fix a game were to get out.

That being said, I will say this. If a crew of officials, for whatever reason, was inclined to fix a game they would have made exactly the calls they made against the Seahawks on Sunday. The timing and impact of the calls could not have been better had there been a sinister plot to ensure that the Steelers would be crowned as champs.

Perception is reality, especially in a sports league. The NFL will only remain popular if people perceive that it’s on the up and up. The events of Super Bowl Sunday will no doubt harden the suspicions of the conspiracy theorists and push more people into the ranks of the cynics.

It’s enough to make Tagliabue long for the days of Janet Jackson and Desperate Housewives.

In the next installment here, this observer’s suggestions on how to fix some of the problems with the officiating.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book chronicles every game the Redskins played from 1937 through 2001. It is available at www.RedskinsGames.com

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2017 Fantasy Football: Top 175 players

2017 Fantasy Football: Top 175 players

With NFL teams starting training camps in preparation for the 2017 season, seemed like a good time to break out an updated rankings list for the upcoming fantasy football season. This list is straight to the point. The top 175 players in order. Cardinals running back David Johnson starts things off with all kinds of running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and defenses in between before we reach Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

  • There’s a top tier with four players. That’s contingent on Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott avoiding suspension. From the sound of things, that might fall under the category of dreaming. The dynamic Johnson is the top overall option, but the Pittsburgh pair of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown have their backers.

 

  • Jordan Reed came in fourth among tight ends even before Wednesday's news that the Redskins playmaker would open camp on the PUP list. That was due partly to fears over injuries, though admittedly more concussion than big toe pain. Therefore no need for any changes at least not down. Should Reed return soon, there's an outside chance he passes Travis Kelce and Greg Olsen as the No. 2 option at the position behind Rob Gronkowski, but this early injury reminder won't help squash fears of using a third or fourth pick on him.

 

  • Jacksonville running back Leonard Fournette (27) is the first rookie listed. Second? Cincinnati RB Joe Mixon (36). The Bengals have something of a crowded backfield, but the next person who tells me they're not impressed by what Mixon does on the field will be the first. 

 

  • Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (40) is the first member of the Redskins on the list. Scan down another 41 picks for the first Baltimore player. Also a good reminder that Danny Woodhead (81) is on the Ravens.

Tier 1

1.  David Johnson, ARI RB
 
2.  Le'Veon Bell, PIT RB
 
3.  Ezekiel Elliott, DAL RB
 
4.  Antonio Brown, PIT WR
 
Tier 2

5.  Julio Jones, ATL WR
 
6.  Odell Beckham Jr., NYG WR
 
7.  LeSean McCoy, BUF RB
 
8.  Melvin Gordon, LAC RB
 
9.  Jordy Nelson, GB WR
 
10.  A.J. Green, CIN WR
 
11.  Mike Evans, TB WR
 
Tier 3

12.  Jay Ajayi, MIA RB
 
13.  Jordan Howard, CHI RB
 
14.  Devonta Freeman, ATL RB
 
15.  DeMarco Murray, TEN RB
 
16.  T.Y. Hilton, IND WR
 
17.  Michael Thomas, NO WR
 
18.  Amari Cooper, OAK WR
 
19.  Todd Gurley, LAR RB
 
20.  Rob Gronkowski, NE TE
 
21.  Dez Bryant, DAL WR
 
Tier 4

22.  Doug Baldwin, SEA WR
 
23.  Isaiah Crowell, CLE RB
 
24.  Marshawn Lynch, OAK RB
 
25.  Lamar Miller, HOU RB
 
26.  Brandin Cooks, NE WR
 
27.  Leonard Fournette, JAC RB
 
28.  Demaryius Thomas, DEN WR
 
29.  DeAndre Hopkins, HOU WR
 
30.  Sammy Watkins, BUF WR
 
Tier 5

31.  Carlos Hyde, SF RB
 
32.  Alshon Jeffery, PHI WR
 
33.  Allen Robinson, JAC WR
 
34.  Davante Adams, GB WR
 
35.  Michael Crabtree, OAK WR
 
36.  Joe Mixon, CIN RB
 
37.  Emmanuel Sanders, DEN WR
 
38.  Aaron Rodgers, GB QB
 
39.  Mark Ingram, NO RB
 
40.  Terrelle Pryor, WAS WR
 
41.  Golden Tate, DET WR
 
42.  Travis Kelce, KC TE
 
43.  Christian McCaffrey, CAR RB
 
44.  Ty Montgomery, GB RB
 
45.  Martavis Bryant, PIT WR
 
46.  Eddie Lacy, SEA RB
 
47.  Keenan Allen, LAC WR
 
48.  Jarvis Landry, MIA WR
 
49.  Tom Brady, NE QB
 
50.  Bilal Powell, NYJ RB
 
51.  Greg Olsen, CAR TE
 
52.  Jordan Reed, WAS TE
 
53.  Frank Gore, IND RB
 
54.  Larry Fitzgerald, ARI WR
 
55.  Dalvin Cook, MIN RB
 
56.  Mike Gillislee, NE RB
 
57.  Drew Brees, NO QB
 
58.  Tevin Coleman, ATL RB
 
59.  Andrew Luck, IND QB
 
60.  Tyreek Hill, KC WR
 
61.  Spencer Ware, KC RB
 
62.  Donte Moncrief, IND WR
 
63.  Willie Snead, NO WR
 
64.  Kelvin Benjamin, CAR WR
 
65.  C.J. Anderson, DEN RB
 
66.  Brandon Marshall, NYG WR
 
67.  Julian Edelman, NE WR
 
68.  Jamison Crowder, WAS WR
 
69.  LeGarrette Blount, PHI RB
 
70.  DeSean Jackson, TB WR
 
71.  Paul Perkins, NYG RB
 
72.  Stefon Diggs, MIN WR
 
73.  Ameer Abdullah, DET RB
 
74.  Matt Ryan, ATL QB
 
75.  Adrian Peterson, NO RB
 
76.  Russell Wilson, SEA QB
 
77.  Jimmy Graham, SEA TE
 
78.  Devante Parker, MIA WR
 
79.  Pierre Garcon, SF WR
 
80.  John Brown, ARI WR
 
81.  Danny Woodhead, BAL RB
 
82.  Kenny Britt, CLE WR
 
83.  Eric Decker, TEN WR
 
84.  Cam Newton, CAR QB
 
85.  Jameis Winston, TB QB
 
86.  Adam Thielen, MIN WR
 
87.  Matt Forte, NYJ RB
 
88.  Delanie Walker, TEN TE
 
89.  Kyle Rudolph, MIN TE
 
90.  Kirk Cousins, WAS QB
 
91.  Jonathan Stewart, CAR RB
 
92.  Kareem Hunt, KC RB
 
93.  Tyler Eifert, CIN TE
 
94.  Randall Cobb, GB WR
 
95.  Jeremy Maclin, BAL WR
 
96.  Quincy Enunwa, NYJ WR
 
97.  Marcus Mariota, TEN QB
 
98.  Doug Martin, TB RB
 
99.  Matthew Stafford, DET QB
 
100.  Theo Riddick, DET RB
 
101.  Mike Wallace, BAL WR
 
102.  Ben Roethlisberger, PIT QB
 
103.  Marvin Jones, DET WR
 
104.  Tyrod Taylor, BUF QB
 
105.  Robert Kelley, WAS RB
 
106.  Ted Ginn, NO WR
 
107.  Samaje Perine, WAS RB
 
108.  Tyrell Williams, LAC WR
 
109.  Cameron Meredith, CHI WR
 
110.  Derek Carr, OAK QB
 
111.  Derrick Henry, TEN RB
 
112.  Duke Johnson, CLE RB
 
113.  Corey Davis, TEN WR
 
114.  Philip Rivers, LAC QB
 
115.  Corey Coleman, CLE WR
 
116.  Jordan Matthews, PHI WR
 
117.  Dak Prescott, DAL QB
 
118.  Eric Ebron, DET TE
 
119.  Martellus Bennett, GB TE
 
120.  Darren Sproles, PHI RB
 
121.  Hunter Henry, LAC TE
 
122.  Jack Doyle, IND TE
 
123.  Jamaal Charles, DEN RB
 
124.  C.J. Prosise, SEA RB
 
125.  Rishard Matthews, TEN WR
 
126.  Terrance West, BAL RB
 
127.  Kenny Stills, MIA WR
 
128.  James White, NE RB
 
129.  Eli Manning, NYG QB
 
130.  Andy Dalton, CIN QB
 
131.  Zach Ertz, PHI TE
 
132.  Chris Thompson, WAS RB
 
133.  Sterling Shepard, NYG WR
 
134.  Giovani Bernard, CIN RB
 
135.  Shane Vereen, NYG RB
 
136.  Latavius Murray, MIN RB
 
137.  Josh Doctson, WAS WR
 
138.  Kevin White, CHI WR
 
139.  Coby Fleener, NO TE
 
140.  Will Fuller, HOU WR
 
141.  Jason Witten, DAL TE
 
142.  Marqise Lee, JAC WR
 
143.  Taylor Gabriel, ATL WR
 
144.  Robert Woods, LAR WR
 
145.  Carson Palmer, ARI QB
 
146.  Carson Wentz, PHI QB
 
147.  Blake Bortles, JAC QB
 
148.  Tavon Austin, LAR WR
 
149.  Tyler Lockett, SEA WR
 
150.  Cole Beasley, DAL WR

151.  Ryan Tannehill, MIA QB
 
152.  Cameron Brate, TB TE
 
153.  Jeremy Hill, CIN RB
 
154.  Breshad Perriman, BAL WR
 
155.  Jamaal Williams, GB RB
 
156.  J.J. Nelson, ARI WR
 
157.  Allen Hurns, JAC WR
 
158.  Joe Flacco, BAL QB
 
159.  Alvin Kamara, NO RB
 
160.  Austin Hooper, ATL TE
 
161.  Sam Bradford, MIN QB
 
162.  Julius Thomas, MIA TE
 
163.  Denver Broncos, DEN DST
 
164.  Mohamed Sanu, ATL WR
 
165.  Houston Texans, HOU DST
 
166.  Antonio Gates, LAC TE
 
167.  Kansas City Chiefs, KC DST
 
168.  C.J. Fiedorowicz, HOU TE
 
169.  Minnesota Vikings, MIN DST
 
170.  Zay Jones, BUF WR
 
171.  Seattle Seahawks, SEA DST
 
172.  Rex Burkhead, NE RB
 
173.  DeAndre Washington, OAK RB
 
174.  Charles Sims, TB RB
 
175.  Stephen Gostkowski, NE K

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Jordan Reed one of four Redskins to begin training camp on PUP list

Jordan Reed one of four Redskins to begin training camp on PUP list

RICHMOND - Jordan Reed will start Redskins training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. 

The team's PR informed the media that Reed is experiencing pain and soreness in one of his big toes. The move to PUP was characterized as precautionary and they want to ensure that issues don't linger into the regular season. 

DeAngelo Hall, Houston Bates, and practice squadder Kendal Thompson will join Reed on the PUP list. 

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER

For Reed, an integral part of the Redskins offense, there is a long history of injuries. In 2016, he missed time with a separated shoulder and a concussion.

Before Redskins fans freak out, remember Reed took part in minicamp and looked dominant. The PUP list also allows the Redskins to activate Reed once he's capable of practicing. 

Reed did not take part in voluntary OTAs with the Redskins in May, but was a full participant with the team at June's minicamp. 

Asked about injured players taking part in practice during Wednesday's press conference, head coach Jay Gruden opened up:

I think the injured guys are injured guys. We’re never going to change how we treat them. It’s the trainers’ job to tell us when they can go. I’m not going to keep a guy out of practice just because I think he might be injured. It’s up to the trainers and up to that player to let me know whether they can go or not. But like you said, we do have a luxury of having 88 or 87 healthy bodies where we can practice and function without somebody who is injured. That’s the trainers’ job​.

Expect much more on this development.

UPDATE: