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RedRamage

Detroit vs. the Refs.

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So, for the first time I think in forever I was actually rooting, during the game, for the Lions to lose.  Normally I always want a win, at least during the game.  Afterwards I can always think logically and accept that a loss is been when looking for a better draft position, but in game it's just so hard to do that.  Given that, it's a bit odd to bring up the two horrible calls in the game which would have helped the Lions had they been called right, but man were these bad calls.  These are the types of calls that make it hard to debate conspiracy theorists.

The roughing the passer call is obviously a judgement call but I don't see how Walker could have done anything different.  QBs are so heavily protected and I get why, but defenders shouldn't be required to defy the laws of physics in order to make a tackle.  Walker didn't throw him to the ground, he didn't hit too high or too low.  He didn't lead with his helmet.  He didn't drive him into the ground... he tackled him and... shockingly... landed on top of him.  It was a textbook tackle in a critical situation in a game and it was the blatantly wrong call.

As for the the "non-TD" ... there is absolutely ZERO evidence that the ball hit the ground.  Yes, the ball absolutely moved after he hit the ground, but there is no clear evidence whether the ball hit the ground or the arms.  If anything I think there might be slightly more evidence that the forearm cause it, but it isn't clear either way.  This 100% should have been a case of "No clear evidence on replay, the call on the field stands."  If it had been called incomplete, that call should have stood after reply.  If it was called catch (as it obviously was), it should have stood after replay.

Now again, I don't want to complain too loudly because I wanted a loss here, and honestly, it give me a chance to have my cake and eat it too.  The Lions played well enough to win, and arguably should have won had it not been for the refs bad calls, but we also got the loss to improve draft position.  Still these are yet more examples of the Lions getting just screwed over by bad, bad calls.

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It is pathetic. Every season this team loses at least one game, and sometimes several, to inexplicable calls like this. 

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I think there is something to this, but it's more along the lines of unconscious bias than overt favoritism or even outright fixing of games as some go so far to say.

Basically all people, even those paid to be neutral, see the Lions and without even thinking about it go:

Lions --> Inept Franchise --> Probably doesn't do things well

Packers (or whoever) --> Winning Franchise --> Usually does things well

I do think officials are the best of the best at their job (the replacement refs a few years back demonstrated that). But just like everyone else, they have their biases. And when a 50-50 call happens, this unconscious association creeps into officials' minds and can impact their judgement call. And this is where things like the PI against Dallas comes in, the multiple flags against the Packers last year, and a lot of the RTP calls we see other QBs get but not Stafford. It shouldn't be understated either though that some aspects of the Lions getting screwed have been by falling on the short end of the stick with respect to black-and-white rules that should have been (and in some cases have been) changed (e.g., Schwartz throwing a challenge flag against Houston on a TD, the 10-second runoff against Atlanta, and to an extent the 'process' play involving Calvin - though that one creeps across categories).

I'd be really intrigued to see an academic psychologist come in and give NFL officials an Implicit Association Test along these lines. These are the same things given the police officers and social workers and doctors along the lines of race, age, and gender to have them identify their unconscious associations. If anyone here is interested, it's also free online for anyone to take at implicit.harvard.edu. If I had to bet though, they'd find biases against the Lions and words like "winning" and "championships" and biases for "losing" and "penalties", with the opposite holding true for teams like the Packers, Cowboys, Steelers, Patriots, and Seahawks. Just a hunch though. And there is no easy solve to that anyway, short of instituting a winning culture over a few decades.

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On 1/6/2021 at 8:48 AM, MichiganCardinal said:

I think there is something to this, but it's more along the lines of unconscious bias than overt favoritism or even outright fixing of games as some go so far to say.

Basically all people, even those paid to be neutral, see the Lions and without even thinking about it go:

Lions --> Inept Franchise --> Probably doesn't do things well

I can accept and buy that for some calls, but only some.  The TD is a perfect example of one I won't accept as unconscious bias.  That wasn't a split second decision.  It wasn't really a question of how to apply a rule.  The rule is plain: If there is no clear evidence, the call on the field stands.  There just was no clear evidence.  There was plenty of time to view, review, tri-view and apply the rule correctly.

With "bias" calls I think it tends to be more of a: "Meh... I can't really tell for sure, so I'm going to error on the side of assuming the Lions made a mistake cause more often than not, they do."  Obviously this isn't what they are saying, but it's kinda the logic that the bias is built on.  In the case of reviewing the TD there's a clear and defined way to handle the "I can't really tell for sure" part.

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At the time I thought the RTP call was horrible, but as I think about it now, I'm not so sure. Yes that is a perfectly legal football tackle, but even though there is no official rule on it, the unwritten rule keeps getting stronger that guys are expected to back off on a QB hit and today most of them do. The standard seems to be what ever you can do to reduce the contact and still make the tackle is now expected when taking down a QB. So if he could have rolled so they fell together on their sides or even rolled to put himself on the bottom instead of on top he was obligated to. That's just the way it is now. Losing QBs is too bad for the game, and probably especially frowned on by the "outcome probability investors" the game doesn't want to tick off.

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2 minutes ago, RedRamage said:

I can accept and buy that for some calls, but only some.  The TD is a perfect example of one I won't accept as unconscious bias.  That wasn't a split second decision.  It wasn't really a question of how to apply a rule.  The rule is plain: If there is no clear evidence, the call on the field stands.  There just was no clear evidence.  There was plenty of time to view, review, tri-view and apply the rule correctly.

With "bias" calls I think it tends to be more of a: "Meh... I can't really tell for sure, so I'm going to error on the side of assuming the Lions made a mistake cause more often than not, they do."  Obviously this isn't what they are saying, but it's kinda the logic that the bias is built on.  In the case of reviewing the TD there's a clear and defined way to handle the "I can't really tell for sure" part.

What is your alternative explanation? Do you really believe there is some grand conspiracy where senior NFL personnel and administration pick and choose winners and losers of games? Who have NFL game and replay officials who have spent their entire adult lives climbing the officiating ladder from high school to JuCo to D3,2,1 to the NFL putting that plan into motion? And those officials then executing that plan by having zero to five 50-50 calls in a game (or sure a little worse sometimes) go for one team and against another? And that not one of these hundreds of people involved has ever blown it wide open - publicly or privately - when it would rank as probably the biggest sports scandal in US sports history? Do we go further then? Do they have enforcers too? Or is it more likely that even the best of the best sometimes make bad mistakes?

I'm not going to believe this kind of grand conspiracy in the same way I won't believe the moon landing was faked... or that airplane vapor is turning the damn frogs gay... That's the stuff for InfoWars, not me. 

Could one person maybe pull off a little bit of BS that would tarnish the league's reputation, destroy their own reputation, and likely land them in prison? Sure, we saw that in the NBA with Tim Donaghy. But some grand scandal meant to keep the Lions down and other teams up? Nah. They've managed to do that on their own just fine.

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On 1/7/2021 at 8:50 PM, MichiganCardinal said:

What is your alternative explanation? Do you really believe there is some grand conspiracy where senior NFL personnel and administration pick and choose winners and losers of games? Who have NFL game and replay officials who have spent their entire adult lives climbing the officiating ladder from high school to JuCo to D3,2,1 to the NFL putting that plan into motion? And those officials then executing that plan by having zero to five 50-50 calls in a game (or sure a little worse sometimes) go for one team and against another? And that not one of these hundreds of people involved has ever blown it wide open - publicly or privately - when it would rank as probably the biggest sports scandal in US sports history? Do we go further then? Do they have enforcers too? Or is it more likely that even the best of the best sometimes make bad mistakes?

I'm not going to believe this kind of grand conspiracy in the same way I won't believe the moon landing was faked... or that airplane vapor is turning the damn frogs gay... That's the stuff for InfoWars, not me. 

Could one person maybe pull off a little bit of BS that would tarnish the league's reputation, destroy their own reputation, and likely land them in prison? Sure, we saw that in the NBA with Tim Donaghy. But some grand scandal meant to keep the Lions down and other teams up? Nah. They've managed to do that on their own just fine.

It is partly unconscious bias. I also think officials have also been getting more involved in the game, in a negative way. 

In the 43 seasons since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, the 2015-19 seasons ranked in the top 10 for penalties per game. The 2020 season ranked as the second-fewest, higher only than 2008.”

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/01/09/sports/deeper-look-top-trends-year-end-awards-2020-nfl-season/
 

I think these two factors play on each other. But it seems the league made a conscious effort to rein in the officials in 2020. Good! We should not see any of them enough that we know their names.

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9 hours ago, Jason_R said:

It is partly unconscious bias. I also think officials have also been getting more involved in the game, in a negative way. 

In the 43 seasons since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, the 2015-19 seasons ranked in the top 10 for penalties per game. The 2020 season ranked as the second-fewest, higher only than 2008.”

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/01/09/sports/deeper-look-top-trends-year-end-awards-2020-nfl-season/
 

I think these two factors play on each other. But it seems the league made a conscious effort to rein in the officials in 2020. Good! We should not see any of them enough that we know their names.

can't read read the link but I read somewhere else (maybe linked upthread?) that the big swing was a huge reduction in offensive holding calls and it was deliberate on the part of the league. I don't have that big a problem with requiring holding be more obvious but why not change the rules out in the open to clarify what they are doing so the players aren't guessing.

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4 hours ago, Gehringer_2 said:

can't read read the link but I read somewhere else (maybe linked upthread?) that the big swing was a huge reduction in offensive holding calls and it was deliberate on the part of the league. I don't have that big a problem with requiring holding be more obvious but why not change the rules out in the open to clarify what they are doing so the players aren't guessing.

Yes, the NFL is aggressively managing the officials. Sometimes it is highly publicized, sometimes it is under the radar. I have a sneaking suspicion that the officials — consciously or unconsciously — rely on the Lions to demonstrate they are enforcing the new rules. Like getting pulled over for 34 in a 30 by an officer who has to make a quota  

They don’t call it the “Calvin Johnson rule” for nothing. 

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The Picked up Flag vs Pettigrew vs Dallas in the Playoffs ruined a promising Young Team.

That was a Win.  And everything could have been different.

 

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On 1/7/2021 at 8:50 PM, MichiganCardinal said:

What is your alternative explanation? Do you really believe there is some grand conspiracy where senior NFL personnel and administration pick and choose winners and losers of games? Who have NFL game and replay officials who have spent their entire adult lives climbing the officiating ladder from high school to JuCo to D3,2,1 to the NFL putting that plan into motion? And those officials then executing that plan by having zero to five 50-50 calls in a game (or sure a little worse sometimes) go for one team and against another? And that not one of these hundreds of people involved has ever blown it wide open - publicly or privately - when it would rank as probably the biggest sports scandal in US sports history? Do we go further then? Do they have enforcers too? Or is it more likely that even the best of the best sometimes make bad mistakes?

I'm not going to believe this kind of grand conspiracy in the same way I won't believe the moon landing was faked... or that airplane vapor is turning the damn frogs gay... That's the stuff for InfoWars, not me. 

Could one person maybe pull off a little bit of BS that would tarnish the league's reputation, destroy their own reputation, and likely land them in prison? Sure, we saw that in the NBA with Tim Donaghy. But some grand scandal meant to keep the Lions down and other teams up? Nah. They've managed to do that on their own just fine.

I don't have a good alternative other than it was just a really bad call.  I suppose the replay person might have thought they saw something, but I certainly didn't see it and I think most viewers as well as the announcers as well as the almighty Dean Blandino himself didn't see it.  That's my only explanation, but it requires an official seeing something that no one else saw, which is a bad official then. It's probably just that an official was bad at his/her job.

My comment wasn't that losers-bias couldn't exist, therefore conspiracy, rather that I see losers-bias effecting the outcome of this call less than split second, on the field calls.

For the record: I do NOT believe there is a grand conspiracy in the NFL to keep the Lions down.  In fact, I think it would be in the best interest of the league for each team to occasionally be good and win it all.  This keeps fans of every team invested and interested. So if there was some conspiracy to fix games I think we'd be more likely to see the Lions win, at least occasionally.

 

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2 minutes ago, RedRamage said:

I don't have a good alternative other than it was just a really bad call.  I suppose the replay person might have thought they saw something, but I certainly didn't see it and I think most viewers as well as the announcers as well as the almighty Dean Blandino himself didn't see it.  That's my only explanation, but it requires an official seeing something that no one else saw, which is a bad official then. It's probably just that an official was bad at his/her job.

My comment wasn't that losers-bias couldn't exist, therefore conspiracy, rather that I see losers-bias effecting the outcome of this call less than split second, on the field calls.

For the record: I do NOT believe there is a grand conspiracy in the NFL to keep the Lions down.  In fact, I think it would be in the best interest of the league for each team to occasionally be good and win it all.  This keeps fans of every team invested and interested. So if there was some conspiracy to fix games I think we'd be more likely to see the Lions win, at least occasionally.

 

I think that's fine then, we can agree. I don't think unconscious bias can be the reason for every poor call. Even the best of the best miss some, so to that point I would rather put it as "an official missed a call" rather than "was bad at his/her job" because their job is much more than just that singular call.

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8 minutes ago, MichiganCardinal said:

I think that's fine then, we can agree. I don't think unconscious bias can be the reason for every poor call. Even the best of the best miss some, so to that point I would rather put it as "an official missed a call" rather than "was bad at his/her job" because their job is much more than just that singular call.

Yeah I phrased that poorly... what was going through my head was: The official was bad at his/her job in this moment.  It's entirely possible that this official is great 99.9% of the time and we just witnessed the 0.1%.  To me, this isn't a call that should be missed... it's not a split second call, you have multiple angles, you have limited time, but still time to weigh the options and not rush to a conclusion... but even the best sometimes blow it.  I mean I'd generally consider Jim Joyce to be a great ump, and he blew a major call, so it happens.

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LOLSOL...is all I can say.  It is what it is and you can see all these stupid calls, be a Lions fan and still be objective.  It is not hard to see bad calls ALL over the place favoring the "good teams'...you see it all the time...and not just in Lions games.  Like you said it is an instinctual thing for the refs..."close call?"...."well it IS the Lions...I am sure they are guilty of it....just throw the flag".

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I think bad teams probably get a lot of more marginal calls against them for the simple reason that they are bad teams because they are mostly overmatched, so they are of course always at the margin of doing more clutching, grabbing, illegal blocking and over doing it on tackles because don't have enough physically to make the play while staying under control. The ref sees this through the course of a game and it has to create a predisposition where he is more expectant of infractions clear enough to call.

This part is a little different than the stuff like the great Calvin Johnson no catch call, but it creates a context that make those calls seem to be more of a pattern than maybe they are.

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I don't think the league is specifically out to get the Lions but there is no denying that the Lions have had some brutal calls go against them in their history, many of which I've never seen before or since.   Off the top of my head there was of course the Calvin Johnson "process" catch, then the issue with the flag on Thanksgiving Day where Schwartz through the flag but since it was a TD throwing the flag was unnecessary so they just didn't review it, I've never seen that before or since.   Then the play in Seattle where the defender intentionally batted the ball out of the end zone, officials said on twitter and the telecast that it was an obvious penalty, again a mistake I've never seen before.   Then you have the Pettigrew PI, I've never before or since seen an official actually announce the penalty only to take it back after.   Then there was that play against Atlanta a couple years ago where the Lions actually got hurt by the play being called a TD on the field. Yet again nothing that has been seen before or since.    I'm sure there are many more examples that I'm forgetting about.  

 

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11 minutes ago, RandyMarsh said:

I don't think the league is specifically out to get the Lions but there is no denying that the Lions have had some brutal calls go against them in their history, many of which I've never seen before or since.   Off the top of my head there was of course the Calvin Johnson "process" catch, then the issue with the flag on Thanksgiving Day where Schwartz through the flag but since it was a TD throwing the flag was unnecessary so they just didn't review it, I've never seen that before or since.   Then the play in Seattle where the defender intentionally batted the ball out of the end zone, officials said on twitter and the telecast that it was an obvious penalty, again a mistake I've never seen before.   Then you have the Pettigrew PI, I've never before or since seen an official actually announce the penalty only to take it back after.    Then there was that play against Atlanta a couple years ago where the Lions actually got hurt by the play being called a TD on the field. Yet again nothing that has been seen before or since.    I'm sure there are many more examples that I'm forgetting about.  

 

Forgot about that facemask call on Rodgers that led to the Hail Mary.  I've never seen something like that called at the last second before or since.  

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1 hour ago, Gehringer_2 said:

I think bad teams probably get a lot of more marginal calls against them for the simple reason that they are bad teams because they are mostly overmatched, so they are of course always at the margin of doing more clutching, grabbing, illegal blocking and over doing it on tackles because don't have enough physically to make the play while staying under control. The ref sees this through the course of a game and it has to create a predisposition where he is more expectant of infractions clear enough to call.

This part is a little different than the stuff like the great Calvin Johnson no catch call, but it creates a context that make those calls seem to be more of a pattern than maybe they are.

Bad teams get more bad calls over the course of a season....bad franchises get them over the course of decades....if the franchise has a "good" year or not....the margins for those 'one off' good team years for that for horrendous franchisees is more than marginal.

It does carry over IMO.  You see it year in and year out and not just with the Lions.  Some teams go through resurgent years where they are at the top for a few years...maybe even making a super bowl etc, so the chance they get the non benefit of the doubt is more than what it would be for a franchise like the Lions though.

The ineptitude is unprecedented.  The Lions ARE the bottom of the barrel.

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