Diplomatic Mariucci has a word for NFL's admission: Bummer
January 07, 2003
GEORGE BUSH never saw the final vote totals from Florida and said, "Bummer."
The Soviet basketball team members didn't think about how they won their 1972 Olympic gold-medal game over the U.S. and said, "Bummer."
Bill Belichick after the Tuck Game, or Chuck Noll after the Immaculate Reception? Are you kidding?
But Steve Mariucci? Of course he said "Bummer." For him, no other remark would have done.
It was exactly the perfect California beach reaction to make a New Yorker shoot blood out his ears. And coming from a Michigan lifer -- all the better.
Either way, the take in New York is that the Giants got screwed Sunday, and that is the most elegant way to put it. That on top of the long list of alleged Giants villains -- head coach Jim Fassel, special-teams coach Bruce Read, kicker Matt Bryant, holder Matt Allen, long snapper Trey Junkin, and Senator Hillary Clinton -- you now may add referee Ron Winter and the Seven Dwarfs.
And the take in San Francisco is, "Nyah nyah nyah, go strangle yourselves."
That the NFL's supervisor of officials, Mike Pereira, saw fit to explain publicly that the officials in Sunday's game fouled up the final play by not calling pass interference on the 49ers' Chike Okeafor only added to the festivities of one of the greatest games in league history.
It seems Okeafor actually had interfered with New York's Rich Seubert while he was an eligible receiver, and that Giants guard Tam Hopkins was the illegal man downfield. Thus, the two penalties would have offset, forcing a re-play of the third down and another chance for the Giants to kick the winning field goal.
Or Bryant to miss the winning field goal. Or Junkin to snap the ball over Allen's and Bryant's heads. Or have the ground split open, swallow the three of them and send them hurtling toward the earth's core.
Instead, the pass-interference penalty was not called, the Giants didn't get that extra chance to save themselves from themselves, and find out a day later that they'd been cheated.
If you are a 49ers fan, it doesn't get any better than this. You get the win, and they get to eat their livers out in helpless apoplexy.
Why, it's Christmas without the credit-card bills.
What could have happened, of course, is anyone's guess, and wholly irrelevant. It's all the stuff of parallel universes, right down to this odd little poser:
What are the odds of a long snapper, even a fledgling member of AARP like Junkin, screwing up three times in a row?
It's a scandalously imperfect resolution to a gloriously imperfect game. Yummy.
This isn't a case of "Get over it," either, although that will be a stock 49ers fan's response. The idea is not to get over it, to let it grow and fester in a Giants fan's heart for years to come, the way the Tuck Rule and 100 other real and imagined slights keep Raiders fans warm at night.
There is something in victimized fans that almost cries out, "Go ahead, screw us." It gives the alibi that true believers need to absorb a hideous loss. It reinforces the incorrect but satisfying notion that game officials show up drunk, drink more while they change their clothes, sneak sips between plays and are absolutely whack-out blotto when the time comes for the big call.
That is, unless you prefer to think of your officials as graft-sucking, dishonest weasels who plot their mistakes to benefit their friends and punish their enemies.
Plus, there's still room to hate the other team and its obnoxious, pig- ignorant fans for thinking their team won fair and square. Fair and square, children, has nothing to do with it, and never has.
Especially when there are reactions like Okeafor's on Monday -- "We didn't play them today. His ass was ineligible yesterday."
His logic is inescapable, and proven by the fact that there are no tickets available for Sunday's Giants-Bucs game in Tampa.
Plus, 49ers fans know that there is also something additionally satisfying about having the other team take a hosing. They want to bring up cornerback Ahmed Plummer's noninterception interception three plays earlier, but that isn't the point. Fans know that watching the other team live with the pain of getting jobbed makes the win all the richer.
Thus, Monday's developments are a great thing all around. The 49ers like it because they go on, the Giants like it because they have a brand-new blame deflector. The hyenas and hyenettes of the media like it because this makes a great game positively immortal.
And Mike Pereira, the officiating crew and the league office? Well, it doesn't work out so well for them, but you know what?
Tell us what you think on the new 49ers Clubhouse message board.