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The G-L Review: Bias in Sports

From here on out, I’ll be writing a weekly column to recap the past game and look forward to the next one, as well as reflect on sports fandom as a whole.

NFL: San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in about three years, I missed all but the waning minutes of the Chargers’ game.

When you’re a devoted fan like me, it stinks. I tried to avoid people yammering on about the score; I cannot even check my fantasy team, chock full of Chargers, for fear of the game being ruined.

I was almost home when I saw the Broncos leading 24-12 with around nine minutes to go. Naturally, I booked it, and arrived just in time to happen upon Casey Hayward’s big pick-six.

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Pumped, I quickly glanced at my phone, and saw that my fantasy football compatriots were chopping it up about the game. The Broncos fan of the group made sure to remind everyone that there was no way this game should’ve been this close, that the Broncos should’ve been utterly destroying the Chargers, and that the vastly superior team was losing the game as opposed to the Chargers playing them well.

Now, I tried to approach this statement as unbiased as possible. I hadn’t watched the game, and couldn’t appreciate the story lines.

However, I saw Chargers fans complaining about the dropped picks. I saw those bemoaning the offensive line, and more specifically, the usually reliable Joe Barksdale. I kept all this in the back of my mind throughout the fourth quarter, and when I promptly watched the showdown in its entirety the next day.

Naturally, I came to quite a different conclusion than the Broncos faithful. To me, horrendous play calling by McCoy and Whisenhunt ruined a perfect chance to tie the ballgame, and take all the momentum away from Denver. But you already knew that.

Those chances at turnovers, those hurried throws by Philip Rivers leading to turnovers--that’s what stuck out to me. The Broncos did not win that game, the Chargers just lost it.

Of course, Broncos fans point to the very pick I commended, when Hayward ran one back, as a terrible throw by Trevor Siemian. Twice, they’ll remind you, the Broncos turned the ball over when they were so close to hitting pay-dirt, and too many times the offense stalled in the red zone.

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Now, I can talk about how Korey Toomer is a cold-blooded turnover machine, or how the Chargers have ran Pagano’s bend-but-don’t-break defense for quite a while now, but I think you get the point. It’s impossible to have a legitimately fair conversation about most sporting events because though we hate to admit it, we all have inherent biases that love to spring their ugly head.

Like how, for some strange reason, I always root for LeBron James come playoff time in the NBA. LeBron just appears to me as the perfect professional, and when it comes to people criticizing him for his flops and sometimes even his play, I defend him to the bitter end.

So if you’re a fan of Skip Bayless, please leave the room right now. That man has no idea what he is talking about and has made an incredibly profitable career out of attempting to tear a legend down, with no visible success. Call Skip brilliant if you would like, but the more commercials I see for his new show with the hated Shannon Sharpe, the more I just absolutely despise the man.

More Thoughts on Last Week’s Game

It’s time for the national sports media and the general sports world as a whole to acknowledge something: Joey Bosa is not an outside linebacker. This NFL article states:

  • Bosa was drafted to play defensive end and he plays defensive end, just like he played defensive end at Ohio State and just like he played defensive end in high school. Yes, he’s not the prototypical size of a 3-4 defensive end, and yes, sometimes he’s rushed standing up. All of that was completely scrutinized in the pre- and post-draft processes. But for some reason, every national media outlet seems to peg him as an OLB, and it just comes off as extremely lazy on their part.
Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
  • I don’t like to hate on refs because they’re human beings, and human error is part of the game. In the end, all those missed holding calls or subjective pass interferences add up for both teams. But the refs really blew the holding call on Joey Bosa during the defensive sequence right after the now-infamous goal-line debacle. Unfortunately, I don’t have the technical prowess to create a GIF of this play, but you may remember that the Broncos were up against their own goal line and #73 got called for an offensive holding on Joey Bosa. The holding clearly happened in the end zone, but for some reason, the ref standing nearby called it as outside the end zone, and therefore not a safety. If the ref does not botch this call, the Chargers get not only two points, they get the ball back with three minutes to go, down by just 6. But in the end, none of that should’ve even been necessary because…
  • ...I don’t know who was calling the plays on the goal-line, but that was a complete disgrace. Yeah, the four plays from the two-yard line have been beaten to death, so I’ll save my breath here. Let’s ignore the fact that you have a running back in the backfield who topped 100 yards rushing and got you to the goal-line in the first place. Let’s ignore the fact that said running back leads the league in touchdowns, with nine out of ten coming from within the ten-yard line. Let’s ignore the fact that your offensive line hasn’t been able to keep up in pass protection, and your quarterback is struggling against the best secondary in the league. Why the hell were the plays coming in so late? Every single time Slauson stepped up to snap it, Rivers had ten, five, sometimes one second to get the play off in time. He certainly did not have any time to audible, and it clearly showed when he had to throw the first two balls away. That right there is a coaching travesty, and it remains to see if these buffoons will be able to get it together and save their own skins by years’ end.

A Look Forward to Next Week’s Game and the Rest of the Season

  • I like the Tennessee match up a lot for the Chargers. A suspect secondary and subpar passing game play perfectly into the Chargers’ strengths. That does not mean I’m underrating them in any way, however. The Titans offensive line and running game are legit, and Brandon Mebane and the Chargers’ defensive line will have their hands full all day. I don’t see Melvin Gordon having a huge day, as the always-underrated Jurrell Casey and the solid Titans run defense will look to limit his output. Nevertheless, just like the Jaguars game earlier this year, I just cannot imagine a scenario where the Chargers lose this game at home, especially wearing their powder blues.
NFL: Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
  • I also like Rivers’ outlook on the next couple of games. Win the next two at home against so-so teams in Tennessee and Miami, and the team sits at 5-5 going into their bye week, after which they control their own destiny in lots of winnable games.
  • Looking around the rest of the AFC West, the Broncos and Raiders duel it out in Oakland this weekend as the Chiefs host the Jaguars. Personally, I think the Raiders are overrated, and I fully expect a Broncos win here. Does that mean I think the Broncos will run away with the division this year? Well...more or less. I do think with Justin Houston returning, the Chiefs become all that more threatening, but with their recent rash of injuries, I think they’ll struggle to keep afloat for the time being.

Some Final Thoughts On Life, the Universe, and Everything

  • To this World, just wow. I’m currently writing this as Carlos Santana has a 3-2 count in the top of the ninth. This is one of those games that you just knew it was gonna be a close one all the way out. Nevertheless, if the Cubs truly bum it here in the ninth, you sure gotta feel for all those Chicago fans. Cleveland fans are spoiled enough after winning in the NBA Finals this year--for that beleaguered city, two championships just seems like overkill.
  • Doctor Strange, Marvel’s latest and greatest superhero origin story, looks awesome. If Mads Mikkelsen’s character can truly become the villain that Marvel has sorely lacked outside of Tom Hiddleston, this could combine with mind-bending special effects to become one of the best movies of the year.
  • Speaking about movies, if Arrival lives up to the hype as an all-time sci-fi classic, it could really lift the interest in a bloated alien genre. More on that to come next week, though.

I’m looking to making this a weekly thing, so if you’ve made it to the end and liked the first-ever “The G-L Review”, let me know and I’ll come right back atcha next week!