By all rights, the flubbed touchdown call at the end of the Steelers-Chargers game shouldn't matter. After all, the Steelers still won, and the odds that Pittsburgh is going to find itself in the point differential neighborhood of the tiebreakers this year are slim, at best. It's a mistake and maybe Troy Paulomalu's agent can get upset about it, but hey, the game came out the same, right?
Unfortunately, in a post-Donaghy world, you can't just assume something that swings the spread is an innocent mistake, not any more. Rightly or wrongly, it will get dissected. It will get analyzed. And the ugly truth that the rise of the NFL was built on gambling will peek out from behind the curtain once again.
And if you're an NFL purist and you're going to debate the point, ask yourself this? What drives NFL injury report rules? Gambling - the disclosure is done so gamblers have accurate information. Why are point spreads printed in newspapers in states that will never see legalized sports books? Again, gambling. Why does the mainstream media report breathlessly every year on the odds of each team winning the Super Bowl, as set in Vegas? It's because the hidden engine of the NFL is gambling. And in this instance, the NFL has done gambling wrong.
The repercussions should be interesting.