Officiating Bias Against Bengals Never Ends

If you’ve been trying to forget the nightmarish hit that Ryan Shazier leveled on Giovani Bernard, it won’t work. The NFL has yet to name it, but that horrendous blow has been deemed illegal. Vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino, has stated that the type of hit that concussed Bernard is not something the league condones. But, once again the NFL parades its bias against the Bengals.

During the NFL owners meetings, Blandino explained, per the Cincinnati Bengals site, that the hit was a foul and should have been recognized at the time it occurred.

“If there were angles involved, it wasn’t a foul,” Blandino said. “We looked at that hit and it’s not a technique want in the game. We’re changing the interpretation of the rule. For the defensive player, it’s not about angles. It’s about lowering the head and using the crown of the helmet. Outside the tackle box, that hit will become a foul. Forceful contact, clear crown regardless of whether there are angles involved.”

Officiating Bias [Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images]It took the injury and near decapitation of a Bengals player to change a rule. Since the 2006 season, that makes three rules that have been altered because of illegal hits by the Steelers. If you’re a fan of the Black and Gold, the incidents will no doubt be fodder for future “little brother” stories. For Bengals fans, it hammers home the inconsistencies that are prevalent.

Since that Wild Card game, the NFL has admitted to three calls that went against the Bengals. They either admitted fault or changed the “interpretation” of the rule. To some, that could mean the beginning of needed safety changes. Football has become a game played by behemoths that run at blazing speeds. Yet, to legions of Bengals fans, the moves are looked upon as mistakes that constantly work against their team.

If you’re a Bengals fan, you have become numb to the inconsistent calls that befall the team. Fans go into most games not even thinking of a victorious outcome. Most of the thought process is centered on surviving botched calls and wondering if those fouls will have an impact on the game.

One such call was the Martavis Bryant Cirque du Soleil flip and catch, on January 9. That somersault catch resulted in a Steelers touchdown. It was their only trip into the end zone. Once again, Blandino chimed in and burned the officiating. Per CBS Sports, he admitted the call was wrong.

“I don’t think this is a catch. If I just had a blank slate and I could say, do you think it’s a catch or not a catch? I would’ve said no catch.”

No big deal? Take away that touchdown and the final score is 16-15, at the worst. Take away the bad call and maybe the Bengals are playing Denver and the Sheriff for the AFC championship. A field goal wouldn’t have won the game.

Officiating Bias [Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]The field goal that won the game would have been a longer try if the officials had flagged Joey Porter. Calling the foul on Porter would have caused offsetting penalties. That would have eliminated the 15-yard flag on Vontaze Burfict for an illegal hit on Antonio Brown. By fining Porter, the league admits that the officials once again blew a call against the Bengals.

Yes, the officials are human. But, when the rules are continuously bent and blurred towards one side, it becomes suspect. Changing the “interpretation” of a rule is usually a subtle way of saying, “my bad.” Not only is that insulting to the Bengals, it’s damaging to any football team.

With the NFL competition committee submitting proposals for rules changes to ownership, things could get interesting. They’ve recommended that an eighth official be added to game day crews. For teams like the Bengals, that could mean fewer mistakes or more, depending on the “interpretation” of the extra referee. Games should be won by the players and their skill. The men in stripes should have no bearing on the final score.

[Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]