August 28, 2008

Donaghy Scandal Doesn't Faze NFL

When news first surfaced that Tim Donaghy was being investigated for a possible role in fixing NBA games, all of the pundits talked about how all sports would have to tighten up to prevent suffering the same fate. Some sports, like baseball and basketball, are somewhat easier to fix from an officiating point of view than others, like football. Nevertheless, it is still possible for an official to have a focused impact on the outcome or at least score.

You can see how a back judge especially could be a little loose calling pass interference one way but not the other. A referee controls the pacing of the game, marking the ball ready for play and calling subjective penalties like roughing the passer. He could have a measurable influence on the over-under by slowing down or speeding up games.

That's why it is so baffling to me that the NFL continues to allow referee Gene Steratore to serve on the same crew as his brother, back judge Tony Steratore. The odds of two crewmates independently falling into the seedy underworld of gambling and organized crime are pretty slim. When you add the brother bond, though, the odds jump considerably. It's still extremely unlikely, but why risk it?

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