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Feb 17, 2006

RACING TODAY

By: JOHN PIESEN


I feel so vindicated.

For months in this space, I have been screaming about the inequities of the officiating in the National Football League. We all saw game after game decided by the zebras, most of the time in favor of the home team.

Let's be honest. That's what the home field advantage is all about.

And, during this time, I took heat from friends and foes alike for picking on the zebras. And at no time did I think I'd ever see a Super Bowl actually decided by the zebras.

Well, I was wrong.

It gets fuzzy here.

No way does word come down from the NFL ivory tower to referee Bill Leavy and his lame assassins to make sure the Steelers win. Yet, we all saw the most one-sided officiated game in a major sports contest ever.

And, on Monday morning, the NFL had the audacity to declare the Super Bowl a "well-officiated" game.

Did I miss something?

Did the Steelers actually go the entire game without holding once?

Did no one ever hear of a makeup call?

The page one game story in Monday's editions of the Dallas Morning News reads as follows:

"They wanted to win Super Bowl XL for veteran running back Jerome Bettis.and for the late Art Rooney.and for Bill Cowher, the longest-tenured coach in the NFL."

The question is who is "they"?

I think we all know the answer.

And the irony is that it was only three weeks earlier when the zebras did everything they could to get the Colts home against the very same Steelers. My, how things changed in three weeks.

In the immediate aftermath of the game, coach Holmgren and his players took the proverbial high road, and refused to bash the officials. But that changed when the team got back to Seattle.

Holmgren was quoted as saying: "beating the Steelers was hard enough. I didn't know we had to beat the striped shirts."

But Holmgren is hardly the guy to talk. Besides spending most of the game, as he always does, covering his mouth with the play Chart so nobody could read his lips, he coached the worst game in the history of the human race.

Obviously, Holmgren is taking heat for his awful clock management at the end of both halves. But, beyond that, on third and one early, he goes downfield (the pass was dropped naturally), instead of making the first down, and running clock.

And, how 'bout punting on fourth and inches up 3-0. You've got the league MVP in the backfield, and a strong, mobile QB. Show some guts already.

I'm not red-boarding here, but the fact is that he kicked 30 yards, the Steelers went 60 yards for the go-ahead TD, and school was out.

And, how 'bout the mark on that third down play. Seattle got screwed on that too.

At least, as far as I was concerned, there were two small consolations.

I wrote in this space last week the following:

"All I know is that 47 points is a lot of points for two teams which like to sit on a lead."

And No. 2. I watched the game with friends at a sports bar in downtown Hot Springs, Ark. Five minutes before kickoff, this dude in a cowboy hat came up to our table, and asked: "Does anyone like Seattle?"

I answered in the affirmative.

Thereupon, the guy said to me: "I'll give you two points."

I said thanks but no thanks.

What a guy!

Before I forget...
I need to mention some of my Oaklawn winners last week on my phone service:

  • The Sovereign-El Chili Dog exacta at Oaklawn: $363
  • Impeccable: $30.20
  • The Beau's Town-Stolen Time exacta: $65.20.

All told, 20 winners from 46 selections.

That's why you need to call 1-888-484-3300, and tell them JP sent you.

In the meantime, some quickies:

Washington played Stanford varsity basketball the other night. It was a close game, which means lots of time outs. But this was the best. The two coaches combined to call eight time outs in the last seven seconds - six timeouts in the final two seconds.

Six!

And, of course, not a single point was scored during those seven seconds.

When Jerry Bailey retired, that made John Campbell the leading money-winner among current drivers and jockeys. It's the first time in history that a driver tops the money standings.

Campbell's horses have earned $232 million. Jockeys Solis, Santos, Desormeaux and Smith stand 2-3-4-5. And congratulations to Santos for hitting the 4,000 mark last week. A terrific rider. And a class act.

What a surprise that Stevie Wonderboy goes down with an ankle. Do you realize that it's been six years since a Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner actually won another race. (Macho Uno in 2000).

And congrats to Mike Matz for Barbaro.

Finally, the press got it wrong when they made a Steelers receiver the MVP.

The five guys in stripes were the real MVPs.

Jay Leno got it right last night. He pointed out that 91 million watched the Super Bowl, less the five officials.



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