By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Monday Night Football was a big of a mess for the NFL this week. While the league is always happy to welcome any and every kind of controversy, the large majority of fans are left with a negative feeling toward the NFL after a taunting penalty played a major role in the outcome of the Steelers’ 29-27 win over the Bears.
A new report from Mark Maske of The Washington Post indicates that the league is standing by that controversial taunting penalty, which is no surprise. Cassius Marsh sauntering toward the opposing sideline in a menacing way may not have actually threatened anybody, but it certainly fits the NFL’s definition of taunting, which is a point of emphasis this year. Of course the NFL will side with itself in this matter. Though many fans can’t stomach that such an “offense” is illegal … it is nevertheless illegal.
What’s actually troubling about Maske’s report is that the NFL is lying to all of us. And as usual, the NFL doesn’t really care.
The obvious dishonesty comes from the league’s response to Marsh’s assessment that referee Tony Corrente “hip-checked” him after the play. Marsh made this claim because … Corrente absolutely, unequivocally, one-thousand-percent moved his body in a way in order to bump Marsh on the player’s jog toward the sideline.
Corrente was staring directly at Marsh, reached to his belt to feel for his penalty flag, and rotated his entire body into Marsh’s path.
Anybody with eyes saw this happen.
Tony Corrente leaned into the contact and then held his flag toss like a walk off three pointer. What a joke pic.twitter.com/MhNlNVewJx
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) November 9, 2021
The folks at the NFL, though, believe that this didn’t happen. Or, more accurately: They want you to believe this did not happen.
“The league did not give credence to Marsh’s accusation that referee Tony Corrente inappropriately bumped into him as Marsh moved past the official and toward the Bears’ sideline following the play,” Maske said, citing one source “familiar with the league’s views.”
Maske added that the NFL will not look into the incident or punish Corrente in any way.
“Asked Tuesday whether the NFL believed Marsh’s accusation about Corrente initiating physical contact was legitimate, a person with knowledge of the league’s view said, ‘No,'” Maske reported. “The NFL did not plan to take any action on it, that person said.”
Those of us with eyes and brains are not asking the NFL to ban Corrente from the league forever. We’re not asking for the man to be thrown into prison. We are merely of the belief that humans in all walks of life should be held accountable for their actions. Simply admitting that the contact took place, was Corrente’s fault, and cannot be accepted is all we’re asking.
An admission of guilt. A minor punishment. A warning to not do it again. A message to other referees. ‘Tis but a humble request.
Yet from the NFL, that’s asking too much. Way too much. Accountability is a four-letter word at 345 Park Avenue.
(In the rare case where the NFL does punish anyone for misdeeds, the league prefers to make such moves in the shadows. It’s also tremendously convenient for the NFL that this Marsh-Corrente issue has masked an actually incorrect penalty call by Corrente which took a touchdown off the board for the Bears earlier in the game.)
Even the wording from Maske’s report — phrases like “Marsh’s accusation” — suggests that there’s something to be debated. There is not. For one reason or another, Corrente stuck out his backside, resulting in contact with a jogging Marsh. There’s not accusation at play. And as Marsh correctly noted after the game, he’d be facing a fine or a suspension if the roles were reversed in such an exchange.
Alas, the NFL is in charge of reality. Roger Goodell’s reign as commissioner will be viewed in history as a time of immense financial growth for the league, but also an era of duplicity and deception. From concussions and CTE knowledge, to domestic violence cases, to assailing Tom Brady for some reason, to relocating franchises, to hiding behind sexual harassment victims, distorting reality has been the NFL’s modus operandi for some time now. Don’t expect it to ever change.
The league that controls the past controls the future. The league that controls the present controls the past.