I broke my NFL boycott for one week and boy am I sorry
I began a personal boycott of the NFL after the St. Louis Rams were whisked away to Los Angeles after a series of lies, deception and corruption. My sour grapes boycott then turned into a boycott of solidarity after league owners colluded against Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee as a way to stand against police brutality and social injustice.
In the countless Sundays that I have skipped NFL football, there has been very little interest or curiosity as to what was happening on the gridiron. Nowadays, there’s simply too much content at the tip of my fingertips. With infinite video consumption opportunities on Netflix and YouTube, my traditional TV watching time is close to nil.
Of course, being a sportswriter who completely ignores the most popular sport in the nation comes with its own challenges. People who recognize me as a writer for The American often seek to strike up conversation about the latest happenings from the sports world. When the topic veers towards the NFL, I’m often caught staring blankly, wondering how to proceed.
While I no longer care about NFL football, I refuse to become like the self-righteous sports fans who sneer at black folks for watching football. My boycott was just that – my boycott. So when people ask who I’ve got in a particular Sunday matchup, it’s sometimes tough to explain that #IMWITHKAP without sounding judgmental as if I’m wondering #WHYARENTYOU.
All season long, I’ve heard people rave about Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. Though I’d read and heard about the heroic feats of the fearless, young, black gunslinger, I’d never actually seen him play. That is what prompted me to pause my protest for one week.
Matched up against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, I knew there was a good chance that the AFC Championship game would be the last opportunity to see Mahomes in action this season.
Despite a pedestrian first half, Mahomes rebounded and finished 16 of 31 with 295 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INT. More importantly, he went toe-to-toe with the greatest QB to ever live.
Had the Chiefs received the kickoff in overtime, I have no doubt that Kansas City would headed to the Super Bowl instead of the Brady bunch.
Unsurprisingly, the Patriots received some assistance from the officials. First, a bogus roughing the passer call against the Chiefs’ Chris Jones for daring to touch Brady’s shoulder while attempting to strip the ball. Later, the officials reversed a call regarding a punt that Julian Edelman appeared to touch. Despite conflicting evidence depending on the camera angle, officials ruled against the call on the field that Edelman touched the ball (which was recovered by the Chiefs).
Luckily for Chiefs fans, “ball don’t lie” and the Chiefs got an interception on the very next play and drove down the field for a touchdown.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t the suspect calls that cost the Chiefs that game. It was the inability to stop Brady and the curse bad luck that put the ball in his hands to start in OT instead of Mahomes’.
The same cannot be said about the NFL Championship game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. While I did not watch the game, I was dining with friends who were glued to their phones. After the non-call seen ‘round the world, my friend showed me the replay on his phone.
There is simply no way that the officials did not see Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman hit Saints WR Tommlee Lewis (never mind helmet-to-helmet) before the ball arrivedon the critical fourth-quarter play.
Replays show the side judge had a close, clear and unobstructed view of the play. Somehow though, the officials huddled up and emerged wearing Bird Box blindfolds when it came time to announce the decision that there was no penalty on the play. It is one of the most absurd decisions in the history of the sport.
Had the proper pass interference penalty been enforced, the Saints would have had a first down with the ball at the 13-yard-line with 1:49 left. The Rams only had one timeout and would have been powerless to stop the Saints from running the clock down to set up an easy chip shot, game-winning field goal.
The faux pas literally cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl.
What once seemed like a crazy conspiracy theory, that the NFL wants large market cities to win, now seems as obvious as that blown call. The Saints were cheated.
According to Saints coach Sean Payton, the league admitted that the Rams should have been penalized in a phone call after the game. Still, nothing will be done. League execs are likely ecstatic to see Los Angeles versus New England (Boston) as opposed to Kansas City versus New Orleans.
Though I enjoyed watching Patrick Mahomes perform on Sunday, the bad taste in my mouth after another Patriots victory and a Saints robbery let me know that I’m not missing much. If I want to see cheating, backstabbing, lying and treachery, I’ll just queue up Game of Thrones.
AB punch drunk?
Speaking of robberies, it was absurd to see Adrien Broner complain about his loss to Manny Pacquiao Saturday night. Even the Rams-Saints officials couldn’t have flubbed the scorecards after Broner was dominated in a unanimous decision by Pacquiao.
Still, Broner did what Broner does and made a complete fool of himself after the fight. It’s sad because Broner has plenty of talent. However, his terrible attitude and inability to perform in big fights have left him all but washed up before the age of 30.
I hope Broner takes care of the $2.5M purse he received for the fight. It’s likely the last big payday he’ll see in the ring.
Follow Ishmael and In the Clutch on Twitter @ishcreates. Subscribe to The St. Louis American’s YouTube page to see weekly sports videos starting Ishmael and Melvin Moore at youtube.com/stlamericanvideo.