The NFL is rigged, always has been

Looking at certain missed calls through a specific lens, how you see it 



From Week 10 of the NFL Season featuring the Washington Commanders at the Philadelphia Eagles from Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 14, 2022. (All-Pro Reels / Joe Glorioso)

BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor

Each year, Commissioner Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL League Office somehow convince all 1,696 NFL players to fulfill the script of the upcoming season. Former players have confirmed longstanding fan speculation that the NFL is rigged. 

On Jan. 31, former NFL running back Arian Foster confirmed on the Macrodosing podcast that the NFL gave him and other players a script for the upcoming season before they started playing any games. 

“We were dedicated to [the script] so it was more so, that was what practice was about. It was about practicing the script,” Foster said

Obviously, that is not the case. The NFL is almost certainly not rigged, as convincing many people who have dedicated their lives to their sport to follow a script would be impossible. But, that will never stop fan speculation that the rigging is real, so what are some of the most “blatant” times the NFL appeared rigged? 

Tuck Rule 

When an NFL quarterback is hit and the ball comes loose, it is a fumble. Unless that QB’s arm is moving forward in a throwing motion, then it is an incomplete pass. But, in the 2001 AFC Divisional Round matchup between the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders, that rule was seemingly forgotten. 

Tom Brady fumbled the ball, but the refs called the ball dead as an incomplete pass instead. The call was vital as the Patriots went on to win the game on a game-winning field goal 16-13. Not only did they win that game, but they also went on to win the Super Bowl, the first of Brady’s career and the team’s dynasty. 

Super Bowl XLIV 

Following Hurricane Katrina, it took years for New Orleans to go through the recovery efforts for the damage and loss that it caused. Three years after its initial tear, they were still recovering but the city’s NFL team, the Saints miraculously won the Super Bowl. 

The NFL wanted the Saints to win because of the publicity, increased ratings and overall feel-good nature of it. The conspiracy runs so deep that they have outlined the potential that even the opposing QB Peyton Manning helped fix the game.

Super Bowl LIV 

The Kansas City Chiefs, the current-age dynasty of the NFL that replaced the Patriots. Patrick Mahomes, the new legendary QB to replace Tom Brady. Neither of those can happen unless the team wins its first Super Bowl.

That is exactly what happened in Super Bowl LIV. Officiating in the game was seemingly one-sided as always and some calls were controversial, to say the least, including a bad pass interference call on San Fransico 49ers tight end George Kittle.

Minneapolis Miracle

Justifying the Minneapolis Miracle as being rigged is simple. How in the world does an NFL safety (in this case, the Saints’ Marcus Williams) absolutely blunder such a simple tackle? All Williams needed to do was wrap up Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs and the game would be over. 

He did not do that, so the only way that makes sense is if you believe he was paid off to lose the game purposely. 

Super Bowl XL 

The extra-large Super Bowl is one of the most notoriously scrutinized games in NFL history. Played between the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers, Bleacher Report has called it an urban legend of how notorious it is. 

Even the referee from that game Bill Leavy apologized to the Seahawks for the poor officiating and said that he loses sleep over those missed calls. 

Super Bowl LI 

Is it not weird that all of the big rigged games come in the Super Bowl? For this edition of the NFL choosing the winner, it again comes down to not believing that a professional team, let alone one good enough to make the Super Bowl, could be that bad. 

The Atlanta Falcons led the Patriots 28-3 with about a quarter and a half left to play. They also led 28-9 heading into the fourth quarter. All they had to do was kneel the ball every single play of offense and become Super Bowl Champions. 

They did not do that. The Patriots came back and won the game in overtime, begging the question of how an NFL team is that bad.

Super Bowl XLVII

Finally, the Harbaugh Bowl. The first Super Bowl was coached by two brothers, one for the 49ers and the other for the Baltimore Ravens. During the game, the power inexplicably went out after Ravens returner Jacoby Jones took the opening second-half kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown. 

With no power, there was a 34-minute delay that is speculated to be done on purpose in hopes of halting the Ravens’ momentum and giving the 49ers the opportunity to come back. Somehow, the Ravens still won the game, but the intent to fix the game was obviously clear.