No, the NFL isn’t rigged

No, the NFL isn’t rigged

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After that bizarre fourth-quarter replay of Sunday’s AFC Championship, a decision that gave Patrick Mahomes a Mulligan to try to convert third-and-nine, we posted a one-word message on Twitter.


It was ironic. I don’t really believe the NFL is rigged. Specifically, I don’t believe in NFL platform games. First, the NFL doesn’t care who wins or loses games. This is simply not the case. Second, the NFL wouldn’t be able to make rigging plays — and wouldn’t be able to keep it quiet.

Yes, the commissioner said he supports the team that is behind in a given match. And it’s hard not to wonder if a team that’s behind by multiple scores sometimes has a tacit opportunity to close the gap, like the Bucs did when trying to erase a 13-point deficit against the Saints. – and when tackle Donovan Smith’s blatant holding was ignored on every play.

Yet the results are not predetermined. They just aren’t.

The tweet was a reflection of how many react when something weird happens. And this reaction has been legitimized by the events of the past five years.

The legalization of sports betting in 2018, coupled with widespread gambling advertising that the NFL directly benefits from, makes people think when strange things happen, the solution is in place. It doesn’t matter if it’s wrong. What matters is perception.

The NFL knows it. Indeed, it was one of the main arguments made against legalized gambling when Delaware tried in 2009 to challenge the federal law that New Jersey eventually overturned in the US Supreme Court nine years later.

“Normal in-game incidents such as bad snaps, missed passes, turnovers, penalty flags and play calls will inevitably fuel speculation, mistrust and accusations of point shaving and match fixing,” he said. said commissioner Roger Goodell at the time.

He was right. While the explanation is almost always incompetence, the prevalence of legalized gambling – as advertised by the NFL and the various media outlets covering the game – will make many people more likely to think something wrong is going on.

It’s not. At least not from the perspective of the league trying to push the end result of a game in one direction or another.

That said, various leads are in place for a possible Tim Donaghy scandal. Put their name in the search box (or just click here). You’ll see the various times we’ve mentioned glitches and kinks that create a way for someone to try and influence the final score of a given game.

The NFL needs to identify and close those loopholes, sealing off any opportunity for someone to wield that kind of discretion and influence. It’s among the various topics covered in the latest section of Playmakers, a book of essays on the last 20 years in professional football – and the direction in which the sport is going.

If the league doesn’t fix certain things (like many aspects of officiating), it’s going in a direction that has a lot of potential complications, for anyone who cares about the sport.

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