Tag Archives: super bowl

“No Call” Football Crisis

New Orleans    Ok, I’m entitled.  It was front page news for days after the game, and now it’s even front-page news in the New York Times.  The sports channels are boiling with the reports.   Has Trump tweeted about it yet?  I hope not!  Of course, I’m talking about the no-call on both pass interference and helmet-to-helmet contact in the last 1 minute and 40 seconds of the NFC Championship game between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams.  I saw it all on television, so I know as much as anyone, and way more than the referees.

I got in a little trouble with my companera, because I repeated the old saw hardwired into me from years of playing football as a kid up through the high school team that our Saints had lots of chances to win, and it shouldn’t have come down to whether or not a bumbling ref made the right call.  As my coaches used to tell me, all of that is true until it isn’t.  I saw Saints Coach Sean Peyton going ballistic on the sidelines right after the play and over and over again.

There were fifty cameras or more on the field, so sure, all of us from the fans in the Superdome watching the jumbo-tron to all of us at home watching on TV knew this was a penalty.  The Rams defensive back knew it was a penalty and has said so publicly.  The Saints receiver knew it was a foul.  Both of them were looking at the ref, and nothing happened.  Within two minutes there’s an automatic review by the refs of touchdowns and other plays, but blatant situations like this, nada.

Gayle Benson, the owner of the team since her husband, Tom Benson, passed away earlier this year, wrote the NFL saying that this kind of incident attacked the “integrity of the game.”  Given the mealy-mouthed, lame way that Roger Goodell has handled his duties as NFL commissioner from players’ protest to player injuries, it was impossible to expect that he would act within his powers to get fairness for the players and fans.  One sportscaster made an excellent point arguing that if the owner screaming had been Dallas’ Jerry Jones or the Patriots’ Robert Kraft much less the much-hated former Oakland Raiders owner, Goodell and other owners would not be able to ignore this thievery.  He didn’t say what seems obvious to me, that a new, female owner would likely be tut-tutted and patted on the hand rather than given justice.

We’ll still root for the Saints.  It’s hard not to root for the Rams over the Patriots, geez enough already!  But it is also hard to still believe that the NFL and the football played on its fields is about sport, fairness, and even integrity, if they won’t admit mistakes and police their refs as much as their players, rather than simply lining the pocket of their billionaire and millionaire owners.  This has to stop, or we can just watch them kill the game.


NFL Cheap on Super Bowl Community Benefits

New Orleans     We love having the Super Bowl in New Orleans.  Another one is coming in a year – 2013!  I read with interest a story in the Times about Indianapolis this year with an alluring headline, “Unexpected Benefits from a Super Bowl Bid.”  On first reading I lapped up the article’s spin on the NFL’s largesse and it’s multiplier impact on the lower income Near Eastside neighborhood.  Re-reading, it is clearer that the NFL chumped ‘em, and yet another argument for why we need to push more aggressively for community benefit agreements (CBAs) in such low-and-moderate income areas, and not just for the business boosters and developer class.

The NFL donates a million dollars towards a community center with a matching requirement to every Super Bowl city to be built in impoverished neighborhoods.   Believe me, I’m Google searching now to see exactly where that million dollars was spent in 1997 and 2002, the last times they were in the city, and what the plans are for next year!

Frankly, a million from the NFL is chump change when one thinks about the fact that it’s close to a $9 Billion dollar business and collects all of the ticket and concession sales at the venue for the game (estimated at more than $200 Million!) and beaucoup from the TV rights.  The Near Eastside in Indy will end up with something called the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center.  For the same $1M Chase (JP Morgan Chase bank) leveraged $4 M in new market credits from HUD and ended up with “naming” rights obviously.

I could reread the article a dozen times and have trouble finding any evidence of how much the community and its residents really had to say about any of this?  Were there jobs for them?  Were there decent wages and benefits?  Yes, there are stories about housing improvements, and praise to these folks, but there was no sign of guarantees of new housing units that came from this massive economic enterprise hitting Indianapolis, and that’s one of the reasons why CBA’s are negotiated!

The NFL rewards the construction of new stadiums with a Super Bowl and Dallas last year and Indianapolis this year are part of that package.   Stadium construction is often a wildly controversial public expenditure of cash and bonding capacity, and none should be approved without community benefit agreements.  This story is a trip to lollipop land without much indication that the community got anywhere near what it should and could have extracted from the overall development and the Super Bowl investments.

The NFL and its 99% owners need to put up more and play a better role in making sure the whole community benefits and not just the wannabes, hoteliers, and developers.  The NFL stepped up for New Orleans after Katrina.  2013 is an opportunity to see a lot more happen here and set the model for the future.