When I first heard Vick’s comments about the lack of roughing the passer calls going his way after the Eagles’ loss Sunday to the Giants I shrugged it off since that’s an all too similar story to us Steeler fans. But the more I heard about it, and heard all the NFL analyst’s opinions on it, the more I felt the need to play the conspiracy theory game. Of course I’m going to include Ben in Vick’s argument. Although the two are very different quarterbacks, they have striking similarities because of their habit of extending plays, shaky offensive lines, controversial pasts, and lack of consideration by officiating crews across the league.
Do I think the refs are out to get Vick and Ben? Of course not, what could the refs alone possibly gain from allowing Vick and Ben to receive hit after hit without throwing a flag? But, for the conspiracy theory game to work there has to be someone benefiting from the underhanded behavior. Cue Darth Vadar music and enter Roger Goodell. I know, I know, the whole “Roger Goodell is out to get us” argument is tired and over used but hear me out.
Since taking over the league, Goodell has been all about “protecting the shield” and has implemented unprecedented suspensions and fines, particularly regarding the NFL’s personal conduct policy. As quarterbacks, Vick and Ben are the faces of whatever franchise they happen to be playing for, and when the faces of a franchise get into legal trouble the likes of which Vick and Ben have been through (disclaimer: Vick served time in a federal prison while Ben was never even charged with a crime.) it tarnishes that shield more than the random Cincy player that’s busted for 9 lbs. of pot in his house.
We all read the comments Vick made in his GQ magazine interview when he let the cat out of the bag that Goodell didn’t want him to start for a team following his comeback in the NFL from his prison sentence and encouraged him to take a 3rd string position in Philly. Goodell’s scheme for that is the same reason for allowing the hits to keep on coming Vick and Ben’s way. If you put Vick on the bottom of the depth chart in Philly, you keep him out of the headlines and keep his controversial past out of the topic of discussion. Now that he’s starting, Goodell has got to find a way to keep him down. Ben came back from a 4 game suspension for some seriously questionable behavior in a Georgia bar bathroom to lead his team to a Super Bowl, in spite of being punched, having his nose broken, and a whole host of other hits that came his way with no flags. Goodell is behind it all, can’t you see? I know it’s a stretch, but this is a fun game so far isn’t it?
If you leave these quarterbacks unprotected, you leave them susceptible to injuries and shorten their careers. Goodell doesn’t want a former dog fighter and former alleged sex offender headlining his league. He wants nice, clean cut guys like Tom Brady, who doesn’t have a twitter, doesn’t get into trouble, and marries a super model. Or Aaron Rogers, who patiently waited for Favre to be pushed out of Green Bay to get his shot at starting and never sent any pictures of his junk to anyone (that we know of).
Also for the conspiracy game to work there has to be a coverup. This is where all of the NFL analysts come in. My favorite are the former players-turned analysts, especially the ones with less than stellar NFL careers on their resume. The biggest coverup to why the hits to Vick and Ben go un-flagged is the explanation that they are “mobile quarterbacks”. This is a crock. Steeler fans know that the majority of the hits that make us scream “Aw come on! Where’s the flag?!” at the TV happen when Ben is in the pocket and not necessarily scrambling. Same for Vick. Just because these particular quarterbacks have the ability to extend a play by either breaking free for a 40 yard run or escaping from a possible sack does not mean it’s no longer a penalty when they are hit and driven to the ground. Last season during an Eagles vs Colts game, Eagles DE Trent Cole was flagged for a blow to the helmet on Peyton Manning and the replay showed his hand basically grazing Manning’s helmet. Ben was punched in the friggin nose by Raven’s DE Haloti Ngata and nothing happened. For Ngata’s hand to get inside Ben’s facemask with enough force to break his nose, clearly his hand was in the neighborhood of Ben’s helmet which is apparently a No-No for any other defensive player against any other quarterback.