I watched Tennessee quarterback Vince Young and NFL referee Jerome Boger exchange a high-five at the conclusion of Monday’s televised game between the Titans and Houston Texans and couldn’t believe my eyes.
Then I couldn’t believe my ears. ESPN’s supposedly on-the-ball crew didn’t weigh in on the exchange — or perhaps the producer made a decision to ignore it because of ESPN’s cozy relationship with the NFL.
Since when does a referee — a person who is supposed to be the epitome of the word “impartial” — find it appropriate to exchange a celebratory high-five with a player? Makes you wonder if Boger had a bet on the game.
Also makes you question whether he calls a fair game if Young is playing quarterback.
The NFL attempted to put spin control on the whole thing — there’s nothing the NFL does better than engage in spin control — but the photo evidence doesn’t lie (http://deadspin.com/5411686/last-nights-winner-referee-jerome-boger). Hard to tell who’s happier over the Titans’ 20-17 victory — Young or Boger.
The fact that the NFL needed a statement of 126 words to spin their take tells you how concerned the league is over what occurred. The league is always concerned about its integrity and goes to great lengths to separate itself from the gambling element — even though gambling is the best thing to ever happen to the league.
What likely occurred is that Boger was strongly admonished in private and the league is putting forth its spin control in public because of its concern over the video evidence. The NFL’s statement said Boger didn’t intend to high-five Young in its first sentence and then says “the two exchanged what appeared to be a quick high-five” in its final sentence.
This isn’t a case of appearances being deceiving. The two exchanged a high-five. Period.
Attempts to justify what happened to stem any outcry doesn’t change what millions of viewers saw with their own eyes. The photo doesn’t lie.
Young and Boger exchanged high-fives and any opponent that plays the Titans and sees Boger is the referee has legitimate reasons to be concerned. The NFL will tell you that Boger was just giving the “proper administrative signal” and “before he lowered his arm, Young, moving towards the referee, raised his own arm and the two exchanged what appeared to be a quick high-five.”
But facts are facts — the referee did the ultimate no-no in exchanging celebratory greetings with a player. Boger should not be allowed to be the referee in any more Titans’ games this season.
His integrity has been compromised by his actions. The NFL can spin it however it wants but the enduring memory will be that Boger was pretty thrilled that Young and the Titans had just beaten the Texans.
And the video evidence supports that type of thought.