Last Sunday the Steelers traveled to the Meadowlands to play the NY Giants. The game was not even a blip on the radar screen in comparison to the bleak reality facing many of the citizens of New York and New Jersey left to face the aftermath of the superstorm Hurricane Sandy. Mind you, this was not your run of the mill storm or football game. This was an emotionally charged and ambiguous contest regarding the normal amount of testosterone laced adrenaline that flows before and during a regular game.
In light of the pregame circumstances it could have been difficult for the Black and Gold to get hyped in preparation to compete against a grief stricken fired up Giants team that was attempting to be the beacon of light at the end of a dark and seemingly endless tunnel of “inhumanity” facing their citizens. There were so many variables and unknowns regarding the game and the alterations of the preparations by both teams leading up to it, that no one could really accurately predict how either team was going to perform. How the game officials performed was a “zebra” of a different color.
According to Steelers running back Isaac Redman, Mike Tomlin said before the game that, “This game is the fork in the road, which way [do] we want to go?”
Well it seems that there were a few forked tongue game officials that either had vision problems and/or judgment problems when it came to calling the game in a fair and unbiased way. Sure we all understood the plight of the residents that follow the Giants but no one will ever have sympathy for a cheater even during the worst of circumstances. Was there an order from higher sources to take it easy on the G-men? Can’t say that for sure but damn, it looked very, very, weird. Even at the risk of being fined, Tomlin weighed in ever so “slightly” on the officiating pointing out; “Some of the penalties were suspect.” I think Tomlin, being the gentleman that he is, drastically understated the obvious. These officials were not only worse than the dreaded replacement officials, they appeared as if they were rejects from the nearby “flag football league” where tackling and hitting the opposition is frowned upon. I am going to get a tad political here. I believe wholeheartedly in the American dream, but…when I hear and see horror stories about voter suppression, voter intimidation, hanging, “chads” and efforts by the powers that be to “fix” this election as well as the altering of past elections, “fixing” a football game is “elementary, my dear Watson.” When I saw NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell taking photos with the New Jersey and New York first responders, I had an immediate flashback to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney staging a bogus Hurricane Sandy disaster relief effort in the mother of all battleground states, Ohio. Oh where by the way, they are seriously attempting to throw some sh-t in the voting game. This is supposed to be America, the place where if you work hard and play even harder, dreams and visions can and will come true.
But now we live in a different America. This is now the place where if you are better than the next guy on the gridiron, court or baseball diamond, then the powers that be can throw some stuff in the game and repave the “surface.” You can be the best and still lose if you are not part of the ultimate marketing strategy. People are agonizing about the “ghost” and bogus calls that went against the Steelers. I am blistering mad about the six or seven holding infractions committed by the Giants offensive line that went totally unnoticed. When Pitt played Notre Dame at South Bend last Saturday there were bogus calls against them that altered the outcome of the game and ultimately “handed” the “Irish” the victory. Yeah I know, Pitt missed the field goal that could have sealed the victory but it should have never reached that point!
Fair play! What in the hell does that mean? I once was jumped during a fight. I informed my Uncle Will. He said, “the next time you see those boys pick up a brick and hit them with it.” I replied, “that wouldn’t be fair.” He answered, “it’s only a fair fight if you win.” You see boys and girls there is no longer such a thing as fair play. Ask Lance Armstrong, the king of the “dopers” and Roger Clemons who was acquitted and seems to have gotten away with steroid “murder.” Barry Bonds was accused of steroid use, was subjected to nine years of hell from the media, fans and the justice system. He was convicted with “questionable” evidence. Marion Jones was stripped of her Olympic medals and jailed. I guess the old saying is true in politics and in life; “different strokes for different folks.”
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741. Bruce can also be heard on the “Odd Couple Sports Show” where he is the AFC North and NFL analyst. The show is hosted by Adam Ragle streaming live on the WCWA Fox Sports Toledo 1230AM. Bruce is featured on Tuesdays from 10-11am during the NFL season. Listen to archived segments on worldspeakconnnection.com click on Aubrey Bruce’s “Fair Catch.”)