Opinion: The NFL Is Not Rigged Against Your Team, So Stop Saying It Is

  • The AFC Championship Game between Cincinnati and Kansas City was poorly officiated
  • Fans of the Bengals are saying the NFL rigged the game for the Chiefs
  • Ex-NFL running back Arian Foster mocked conspiracy theorists on a recent podcast
  • The NFL would have probably gained more if the Bengals had advanced to the Super Bowl
Tin foil hat family
The claims that the NFL is rigged – spurred on once again by the AFC Championship Game – are ludicrous. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Who says the NFL is rigged?

Contrary to rumors that have been circulating lately, the NFL is not rigged.

Sure, conversations are being held behind the scenes that will never see the light of day, and yes, your team has probably been done wrong before, but that does not mean that the league is carrying out vendettas.

let’s dilute the anger being forced down our throats with a shot of reality

If the league was rigged, the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles would not be in the Super Bowl, and the Dallas Cowboys would not have lost in the divisional round. Seriously, let’s dilute the anger being forced down our throats with a shot of reality.

The past is the past

Sports fans claiming that a higher power is out to get them is a tale as old as time itself.

Now, it is important to acknowledge that there have been instances of match-fixing from players and referees. The most famous example of players throwing games is remembered as the 1919 World Series featuring the “Chicago Black Sox,” a clever play on their “White Sox” team name, during which players accepted bribes to make mistakes and ultimately lose the series.

NBA referee Tim Donaghy also confessed to accepting money from a professional gambler in the early 2000s in exchange for inside tips on games. Donaghy said league executives asked him to make calls to purposefully manipulate the outcomes of games, though those accusations were never proven to be true.

to them, it’s impossible that human referees could make poor decisions

Now, NFL fans – specifically those of the Cincinnati Bengals – are adding last Sunday’s AFC Championship Game to the all-time list of sports scandals. To them, it’s impossible that human referees could make poor decisions, just as a human car driver could never get into a crash, or a human restaurant employee could never forget to take the lettuce off your burger.   

Speaking on the Barstool Sports-sponsored podcast “Macrodosing,” retired running back Arian Foster sarcastically mocked the recent outcry by saying the league has scripts that determine how the season will play out.

The Bengals-Chiefs game was poorly officiated, no doubt about it. However, many conspiracy theorists are dragging it entirely too far.

Debunking the theory

Let’s look at the illegal late hit out-of-bounds call on Patrick Mahomes late in the fourth quarter, which many conspiracy theorists are using to show the league is rigged. That call is by the book and made 100 times out of 100, and it just so happened to be against your team.

Is it an unfortunate ending to an amazing game? Of course. Is the league rigged because referees enforced the laws that hold the game together? Absolutely not.

The league also stood to gain from a Bengals win over the Chiefs. Kansas City is already a dynasty with Patrick Mahomes and would not have lost any major support with a loss, whereas the small-market Bengals were an impoverished franchise for many years and have only recently grown in the public eye.

Sports betting was also legalized in Ohio at the start of January, which means that the NFL could increase fan participation through the sportsbooks if the Bengals made the Super Bowl. But then again, that makes too much sense for the conspiracy narrative, doesn’t it?

Let’s take it a step further. If the league really wanted to control the outcomes of games, it would have found a way to get the Cowboys into the NFC Championship, if not the Super Bowl. The Cowboys have the most fans nationwide and are the most valuable sports franchise in the world, so what benefit does the league get from sending them home in the second round?

The NFL is not rigged against your favorite team. Stop saying it is.

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