By now we all know exactly what happened at the end of regulation in the NFC Championship game. The refs blew a blatant pass interference call that could've sent the Saints to the Super Bowl. Yes, there were other plays that could have been made in the game that would have resulted in this play either being a moot point, or it not having occurred at all. Nevertheless, it happened, guilt by all parties involved was admitted, and it won't change a damn thing.
The sad part is that there's nothing new under the sun, and screwjobs are a part of that. Things like this have gone on for years in one way, shape, form, or another. Here's a look at several scewjobs that are either proven/acknowledged, or widely accepted:
2002 NBA Western Conference Finals game six
Disgraced former NBA ref Tim Donaghy
The Lakers were down 3-2 entering game six. They won that pivotal game 106-102 amidst a host of questionable calls. In the fourth quarter, the Lakers shot 27 free throws. Overall, they had a 40 to 25 advantage in free throw attempts in that game. The fact that convicted felon Tim Donaghy was on the ref crew that game tends to add to the idea that this game was rigged. Donaghy was sentenced to two 15-month sentences to be served concurrently and three years probation for his role in a gambling scandal on July 29, 2008. We can all thank him for forever thinking sports are rigged.
The Montreal Screwjob
Bret Hart confronting Vince McMahon backstage
November 9, 1997 will live in infamy for wrestling fans. Pro wrestling has pre-determined outcomes of every match, but this one was different. Bret Hart was set to leave then WWF for then rival WCW amidst a contract dispute. To complicate matters, he was the champ at the time. Vince McMahon didn't want Hart taking his title to his biggest rival who was threatening his existence. McMahon called for the bell prematurely while Shawn Michaels had Hart in his own submission hold and all hell broke loose. The picture used here was taken right before Hart ended up punching McMahon in the face. Hart didn't want to lose in Canada and has maintained he was never planning on taking the title with him when he left. McMahon, sporting a black eye, came on Monday Night Raw the following Monday and explained the situation famously saying "Bret screwed Bret" and the his bad guy persona of Mr. McMahon was born.
The Titanic sinking
Raymond Wong, National Geographic
Billed as the ship that would never sink, the RMS Titanic was huge disaster. It was an 883' long engineering flop that sank on it's maiden voyage. There were 2,224 people on board and more than 1,500 of them died. Most of you will only remember the movie and the song, but this was an epic fail in real life. Two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg on its sixth day in service, it was nothing more than ocean debris. Craziest thing about it was that there were a lot of rich people on board due to the first class accommodations.
The legal mafia of college athletics
Where do I even start with this load of crap? Whether it's allowing coaches to move from job to job freely while holding "student-athletes" hostage, or it's making money hand over fist while restricting those "student-athletes" from monetarily capitalizing on their image or success, the NCAA is a organization built on hypocrisy. The land is littered with stories of "student-athletes" who have been screwed by the NCAA over the years for one reason or another. The transfer portal in football has recently given a bone to football players, but it came after years of pressure. Theodore Roosevelt must be rolling in his grave.
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.