Dallas Cowboys Move On: An NFL Editorial
Let me just say, very quickly, congratulations to the Dallas Cowboys for their playoff victory over the Detroit Lions. It was a tight game, one in which Tony Romo and the Cowboys had to come from behind to win. There seems to be something of a cloud over the affair, however. There is the matter of a reversed call: the flag was picked up on the defensive pass interference call. It was initially called on the Dallas defense and then withdrawn with the explanation that "there is no foul on the play," and so on.
Many people want to say that the Lions were robbed of the game because of that pivotal call, even though it was not the final play of the game. But whatever.... I am not even going to argue the point. Suffice it to say that I think such a position assumes an awful lot that is not foreseeable.
The game ended 24-20 in Dallas's favor. It came down to an exciting play made by the Dallas defense. And let me say a special "Good for you" to the Dallas Cowboy defense, which has been maligned as mediocre at best for so long.
You know, one of the color commentators on one of the sports stations said something about the Dallas victory having something to do with "justice." He said something to the effect that "justice peeked beneath her blindfold," to, in effect, allow Dallas the victory. That would appear to be an extremely difficult sell---on the surface.
But when he invoked "justice," he might very well have been thinking about the Lions middle linebacker, Ndamukong Suh. As you know, he was supposed to have been suspended and not allowed to play in this game. If you want to talk about flags being "picked up," the National Football League itself picked up a huge flag in the case of Suh.
As you know, the League itself, initially suspended Suh because he deliberately stepped on the leg of Green Bay Packer quarterback, Aaron Rodgers's (arguably the face of the entire NFL) leg---not once but twice.
The National Football League's first reaction was to suspend Mr. Suh for a game, even if it was a playoff game. Suh and his representative(s) appealed and the League, instead, reversed themselves, allowed him to play, and merely fined him $70,000.
Here's the thing. First of all, while seventy-thousand dollars is a lot of money, one analyst on the NFL Network has pointed out that the seventy-thousand is one half of a percent of his salary. Given that, Suh does not have to get the idea that his actions have consequences: he is not putting his family and his team into any difficulty by his continued egregious behavior.
Here's where the "justice" part comes in. Had the League not "picked up the flag" on Suh's suspension, the complexion of last night's game would have been very, very different. Nobody has ever denied that the man is a fantastic middle linebacker, stout against the run and all that. Had Suh been required to serve the one-game suspension that he most assuredly earned, the Dallas Cowboy DeMarco Murray---the best performing running back in the National Football League this season---would have run wild on the Lions for a two hundred-plus yard day with a couple of rushing touchdowns; and the outcome would not have even been close: perhaps something on the order of 47-17.
When Suh was going to be excluded from the game, most analyst were projecting not only that the Dallas Cowboys would win the game, but win decisively, to say the least, almost to the point of being noncompetitive. I'm just saying that that is what most analysts, I heard, were saying.
Some people say: It really is good that Ndamukong Suh wasn't suspended, after all. This is the playoffs and "we" want to see the best against the best at their best. Yada, yada, yada...
First of all, I am not convinced that the casual fan of the NFL knows who Suh is or how important he is to the Lions's defense.
Second of all: Tough luck! Lots of teams have had to make do without several of their key players, due to injury of one kind or another or suspension for one reason or another.
Third of all: These are the playoffs. It is said that teams need to being playing their best football at this time, and all that. Players also need to thinking the most clearly at this time; and they need to be especially on their Ps and Qs, at this time; and in particular, the marquis players need to not do dumb non-football related things that cause them to have to miss crucial games, and thereby hurt their teams.
Fourth of all: Missing key players at inconvenient times is one of the things that usually fall under the heading of "adversity" (this is a word thrown around a lot in the League nowadays); and it is something that must be confronted, and, if possible, overcome. Look at the poor Arizona Cardinals. They were down to their fourth quarterback, among other injuries. And, incidentally, I would vote for head coach Bruce Arians for Coach of the Year, for managing to get that football team to 11-5 and into the playoffs, under the circumstances.
You know, when people talk about Suh being a dirty player (as his long record of infractions, suspensions, and fines say he is), some people do a nod and wink and say: Yeah, he may be an S.O.B., but he's the kind of guy I'd want on my team, so he'd be MY S.O.B.
My response to that is: Really? Seriously? Let me just put this question to you: What makes you think that such ferocity would not be turned against you (whoever "you" may be), just because you happen to wear the same uniform as him?
Just look at what happened with the Miami Dolphins. Richie Incognito got bounced from the League; and Jonathan Martin, the teammate he apparently "bullied," wound up with the San Francisco Forty-Niners.
So, if and to the extent that the concept of "justice" can be said to be operative in the universe, as a function of "karma," and the like---then, yes, as that sportscaster said, it was apropos that Lady Justice peeked beneath her blindfold, put a thumb on the scales tilting Victory in the Cowboys's direction.
Thank you for reading.