Five years ago, the Super Bowl was held in New Orleans; the game was between the Ravens and the Niners; you should remember that game as the one where the lights went out in the third quarter for about half an hour. The Ravens led comfortably before the lights went out but the Niners rallied once the lights came back on and made a game of it down to the final possession. After that game, Ray Lewis – and probably some others – advanced the conspiracy theory that the league had engineered the power outage because the league wanted the Niners to win the game. In the intervening years, I recall one time when Terrell Suggs made a similar allusion.
Before I expend another byte of memory on this rant, I have not seen a shred of anything that could even masquerade as evidence for this hypothesis nor can I conjure up a rational sequence in my mind that would suggest to me that the NFL might have cared who won that game. But I mention it here because Russell Okung, starting OT for the LA Chargers, has asserted this week that the NFL is conspiring against the Chargers.
Okung has advanced his theory even further than I remember Lewis or Suggs taking their hypotheses; Okung called out Roger Goodell specifically by name as a part of the conspiracy. Let me give you the rough outline of Okung’s hypothesis:
- The Chargers’ home stadium for this year – awaiting the completion of the new stadium for the Rams and the Chargers in LA – is a 30,000-seat soccer stadium. In terms of revenue generation and in terms of a visual comparison to the other 31 home venues, the Chargers’ Stub Hub Center comes up short. According to Okung, the league has no problem with the Chargers making it to the Super Bowl this year – but the league is going to make them do it on the road.
- In last week’s win over the Raiders and in the game three weeks ago against the Ravens the Chargers were in a position to win the game but in each case a holding call (against Okung in each case) nullified a run for a first down giving the Ravens chances in the two games for a victory. Three weeks ago, that chance materialized; last week it did not. The Chargers’ loss three weeks ago kept them from winning the AFC West and gaining the top seed in the AFC playoffs. The holding call last week gave the Ravens a chance to eliminate the Chargers from the playoffs – but a lost fumble on the Ravens’ final possession kept the Chargers’ hopes alive.
The fact that the Chargers were not eliminated last week would seem to put the lie to the conspiracy theory here because the Chargers can still host a home game in these playoffs in that itsy-bitsy stadium. Here is how:
- Colts (6th seed) beat the Chiefs (1st seed) in KC this weekend – – AND – –
- Chargers (5th seed) beat the Pats (2nd seed) in Foxboro this weekend.
In that event, the Chargers would be the higher seeded team for the AFC Championship and would play at home in the Stub Hub Center.
So … IF Roger Goodell and the NFL poohbahs are so hard-over on keeping the Chargers from hosting a playoff game that they would begin to exercise their plot in Week 16 of the regular season, why would they leave themselves open to the possibility of having the Chargers be the home team next week? IF this is such a big deal, why did not these conspirators make sure that the Chargers were “one and done” in these playoffs?
Oh, I get it now… The NFL was even more interested in getting even with the Ravens last week for beating the Niners in the Super Bowl five years ago when the “power outage ploy” was unsuccessful. How does that song go?
“I can see clearly now …”
Moving on …
Low probability events happen every day; sometimes they happen in the sports world. Remember the Buster Douglas win over Mike Tyson; remember the “Miracle on Ice”; remember NC State beating “Phi Slamma Jamma”. Last weekend, there was another highly improbable sports result but this one was far more subtle. Adam Schefter pointed it out in a Tweet:
“Bears were +2 in turnovers Sunday vs. Eagles. Home teams that were +2 in the playoffs the past 40 years were 112-4.”
In case the battery on your phone is low and you cannot use the calculator there, that means that 97% of time when the home team won the turnover battle by a margin of 2 turnovers, that home team won the game.
Now, put yourself in the mindset of a rabid sports fan in Chicago. In a pure flight of fancy, imagine that you have a choice that cannot be overruled by any power in the known universe. Lake Michigan has been frozen over but the ice has begun to break and there is open water out there with ice floes afloat. You – in your omnipotence – can launch one and only one naked person onto an ice floe into the open waters of Lake Michigan consigning that person to a slow death by hypothermia. Would you pick:
- Cody Parkey – – OR – –
- Steve Bartman?
Finally, since I began today talking about conspiracy theories, let me close with a definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Conspiracy Theorist: Someone whom you indulged when they would go on a tirade about how the Air Force has a space alien hidden in a bunker somewhere – and to whom you gave polite audience as they maintained that the CIA killed JFK, Marilyn Monroe and John Lennon – but who finally, totally and irrevocably lost you when they started talking about how humanity is actually a race of freaking lizard people.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………