Monday, January 16, 2006

Conspiracy Theories

Pittsburgh Steelers fans around the “Steelers Nation” have flooded internet message boards and call-in phone lines with complaints about the instant replay official’s reversal of the apparent interception by Troy Polamalu in yesterday’s NFL divisional playoff game against Indianapolis.

The gist of their rants is that their exists a conspiracy on the part of NFL officials, network television executives, and/or the powers behind professional sports betting to keep the Steelers from winning.

The more rabid of these fans cite things like the length of time it took official Pete Morelli to deliver his ruling on the reversal (“that proves he was on the phone to NFL headquarters/television executives/casino bosses”), several other questionable calls (“Randle-El didn’t get the pass interference call because they wanted to make sure Payton Manning’s team would advance/the over-under stayed at 41”), and/or historical examples of the Steelers’ getting hosed by bad calls, (“remember that running into the kicker penalty against Tennessee a few years back?”) as evidence of the plot against the Black and Gold.

I dunno. While the reversal of the Polamalu interceptions was among the worst calls I’ve ever seen, I just can’t buy the conspiracy theories. Perhaps this is because I naively want to believe that outcome of pro football games are less predetermined than those of pro wrestling matches but perhaps it’s because the evidence someone is out to get the Steelers isn’t really there.

Wouldn’t fixing games against Pittsburgh (or any team) be killing the goose that laid the golden egg? If people start to think the games are rigged, then the NFL, the networks, and the gambling bosses will all suffer. Plus, it’s not as if the Steelers don’t have a huge nationwide following; plenty of people will tune in and bet big when Pittsburgh plays.

Myself, I think it’s just coincidence that the calls went against Pittsburgh. Besides, when it really mattered, on the Vaderjagt field goal attempt, NFL officials/TV network executives/gambling bosses made him miss.