NFL Bias Against the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders

A mafia need not cheat in every facet of its conduct, as this is not necessary to influence a dynamic market or community. In order to effect an anti-competitive outcome an oppressive agency may only need exploit specific indigo point factors in certain influential yet surreptitious ways. Moreover, a mafia will punctuate such methods with instances of its willingness to enact cruelty to a very visible extreme, in pursuit of quiescence and silence.

Note: because of the keen interest by vociferous Las Vegas Raider fans, as well as the NFL’s Soviet-style character assassination of Raider’s head coach Jon Gruden in October 2021, I have extracted and updated this section from a 2019 article on Inflection Point Theory, and made it into its own blog post.

Also please note that I condemn the racist, misogynistic, and LGBT-intolerant statements made by Jon Gruden inside old emails of his leaked last week by the NFL. However I condemn as well, the NFL’s choice to release these emails on the 10th anniversary of Al Davis’s death, a full 5 months or more after they already held them, their selective release of only one person’s emails out of a group of 650,000 emails, as a misdirection away from necessary self-accountability, and moreover using a series of strategic releases to effect as much personal damage, cruelty, and social polarization as was possible.1

Such mob actions constitute malicious overkill, and only serve to make people distrustful of social justice movements; thereby further entrenching net systemic biases, fears, and the overall level of class polarization.

The Mafia Cheat – Exemplified by NFL’s Exploitation of Interpretive Penalty Call/No-Call Inflection Points

Our final example of The Cheat involves a circumstance which exhibits how The Cheat itself can be hidden inside the fabric of propriety, leveraging from the subjective nature of shades-of-color interpretations and hard-to-distinguish absences which are very cleverly apportioned to effect a desired outcome.2

Cheating is the spice which makes the chef d’oeuvre. Cheat through bias of omission not commission, only marginally enough to enact the goal and then no further, and while bearing a stately manner in all other things. Intimidate or coerce participants to remain silent.

Indigo point raison d’être: Interpretive Penalty Calls/No-Calls at Critical Indigo Points and Rates which Benefit Perennially Favored Teams and Disadvantage Others

I watched a National Football League (NFL) game last week (statistics herein have been updated for NFL end-of-season 2019) where the entire outcome of the game was determined by three specific and flawed penalty calls on the part of the game referees. The calls in review, were all invalid flag tosses of an interpretive nature, which reversed twice, one team’s (Detroit Lions) stopping a come-from-behind drive by the ‘winning’ team (Green Bay Packers). Twice their opponent was given a touchdown by means of invalid violations for ‘hands-to-the-face’, on the part of a defensive lineman. Penalty flag tosses which cannot be changed by countermanding and clear evidence, as was the case in this game. The flags alone artificially turned the tide of the entire game. The ‘winning’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a man of great talent and integrity, when interviewed afterwards humbly said “It didn’t really feel like we had won the game, until I looked up at the scoreboard at the end.” Aaron Rodgers is a forthright Tau Point Man – he does not hide his bias or agency inside noise. Such honesty serves to contrast the indigo point nature and influence of penalties inside of America’s pastime of professional football. Most of the NFL’s manner of exploitation does not present itself in such obvious Tau Point fashion, as occurred in this Lions-Packers game.

Fans pointed to the NFL as the sport in which officials have the most influence on results, with 81 percent saying they influence outcomes at least somewhat and 41 percent saying referees have a lot of influence on outcomes.

   ~ Morning Consult: Brand Intelligence: State of Sports Officiating

An interpretive penalty is the most high-sensitivity inflection point mechanism impacting the game of professional football. For some reason they are not as impactful in its analogue, the NCAA of college football. Not that referees are not frustrating in that league either, but they do not have the world-crushing and stultifying impact as do the officials inside of the NFL. NFL officials single-handedly and often determine the outcome of games, division competitions and Super Bowl appearances. They achieve this (whether intended or not) impact by means of a critically placed set of calls, and more importantly no-calls, with regard to these interpretive subjective penalties. Patterns which can be observed as consistent across decades of the NFL’s agency-infused and court-defined ‘entertainment’. Let’s examine these call (Indigo Point Commissions) and no-call (Indigo Point Omissions) patterns by means of two specific and recent team examples respectively – the cases of the 2019 Oakland Raiders and the 2017 New England Patriots (note: only the Oakland Raider analysis is presented in this extract from the original article and the analysis was expanded to cover NFL seasons 2009 – 2021).

Indigo-Commission Disadvantages Specific NFL Teams: Case of the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders

Argument #1 – The 2009 – 2021 Penalty Detriment-Benefit Spread and Raider 60-Year Penalty History

As one may observe in Exhibit 1 to the right, The NFL’s Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders have consistently been the most heavily penalized-per-play team by far, over the last 60 years of NFL operations. Year after year they are flagged more than any other team, while in contrast their opponents are flagged in the bottom quartile of teams each week. For a while, this was an amusing shtick concerning the bad-guy aura the Raiders carried 40 or 50 years ago. But when one examines the statistics, and the types of penalties involved – consistent through six decades, multiple dozens of various level coaches who were not as highly penalized elsewhere in their careers, two owners and 10 varieties of front offices – the idea that this team gets penalized, ‘because they are undisciplined’, or ‘have rowdy/nasty fans’, or just ‘are supposed to be flagged more’ begins to fall flat under the evidence.

Of course it is also no surprise that the Raiders hold the record for the most penalties in a single game as well, 23 penalties and 200 yards penalized.3 To wit, the curve which is created by the flow of these blue bars in Exhibit 1 above is a very familiar curve inside systems theory. It is called a ‘Human-S’ bias detection curve, and relates to any system measure which is an outcome of human perception or performance. What is key to me as a human-systems professional is that 31 of 32 teams in this chart fall nicely on an expected Human-S ranking distribution. Only one team does not. This team on the right hand side of the chart is being dealt with by means of an organizational bias.4

However, it is not whether your team is the most penalized in any given year; rather, it is the spread between how often a team is penalized per play, as compared to how often their opponents are penalized per play. The differential spread between penalties-per-play-against and penalties-per-play-for the Raiders, during NFL seasons 2009-2021, can be observed in Exhibit 2 to the right. I created this through analyzing the penalty databases at NFLPenalties.com.5 The detailed data analysis for both the Exhibit 2 ‘spread’ and Exhibit 1 ‘bias’ can be viewed by clicking here. As one can clearly see, the Raiders fare much worse in penalty-per-play differential than any other team, a full 51% worse than even the #3 disfavored team in the NFL from 2009-2021. Amazingly, these years were not even as highly biased as were many of the prior years back to 1968. Seven decades of cheating on the part of the NFL and its officiating.

Take note in Exhibit 2 as well, of the #2 most favored team on the part of the NFL over this timeframe.
No surprise there.

True to form, the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders held the highest penalty-per-play differential again for the NFL 2019 Season. The chart at the open of this article was developed through game 10 of the 2019 season, when the disparity was obvious and particularly ludicrous. For most of the 2019 season, the Raiders were the most penalized team per game play in the NFL – while the least penalized team was whatever team happened to be playing the Raiders each week. One can view the supporting analysis for that assessment by clicking here. One can view another typical year’s bias against the Las Vegas Raiders in this Penalty Spread Differential Chart for 2021 as well. In this one the Raiders were only bumped from #1 ‘least favored’ team status to #2, after a 14 penalty Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving day.

More to the point however, for the 2009 through 2021 NFL seasons the greatest differential between penalties-per-play-against and penalties-per-play-benefit is held by the Raiders. What Exhibit 2 shows is that in general, it takes 7 less plays executed for the Raiders (1 penalty every 19.3 plays) to be awarded their next penalty flag, as compared to their opponent (one penalty every 26.2 plays). Or put another way, the Raiders were flagged an average of 9.1 times per game, while comparatively their opponents were flagged on average 6.7 times per game – inside a range of feasibility which annually runs from about 9.1 to 5.6 to begin with.  These Raider 2009 – 2021 penalty results are hugging the highest and lowest possible extremes for team versus opponent penalty rates respectively. This differential, as you will see later in the article, costs the Raiders two to three game victories per season, versus the average NFL team.

This differential in biased officiating costs the Raiders two to three
game victories each and every NFL season, versus the average NFL team.

Nevertheless the bottom line is this, and it is unassailable:

The Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders are far and above more penalized than any other NFL team, leading the league as the most penalized team in season-years 1963, 1966, 1968-69, 1975, 1982, 1984, 1991, 1993-96, 2003-05, 2009-11, 2016, and most of 2019 – further then landing in the top 3 penalized teams every year from 1982 through to 2019 with only a few exceptions.6 7 8

The Raiders hold 70% of the records for all-time most penalized teams in NFL history, at ranking slots #1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 10.9

The notion that the NFL deals with the Raider organization in any kind of objective fashion, has long been put to rest. Most football fans just accept this as a quirk of the league and part of its overall theater.

Argument #2 – History of Drive-Sustaining Penalties Awarded to Opponent

In the case of the Raiders, the overcall/undercall of penalties is not a matter of coaching discipline, as one might reasonably presume based upon outdated team reputation – rather, in many of the years in question the vast majority of the penalty incident imbalances involve calls of merely subtle interpretation on the part of NFL officials. Things which can be called on every single play, but for various reasons, are not called for certain teams, and are more heavily called on a few targeted teams – flags thrown or not thrown at critical moments in a drive, or upon a beneficial turnover or touchdown. To wit, in the chart which I developed to the right, one can discern that not only are the Raiders the most differentially-penalized team in the NFL – but as well, the penalties which are thrown against the Raiders are done so at the most critically-disfavoring moments in their games. Times when the Raiders have forced the opposing team into 3rd down and long circumstances and their opponent therefore needed a break and an automatic first down in order to sustain a scoring drive.

As you may observe in the chart, a team playing the Raiders in such a circumstance for seasons 2009 – 2021 (and 2019 in particular), bore by far the greatest likelihood of being awarded the subjective-call10 and critical break they needed from NFL officials.11 The detailed data sheet outlining this comparative can be viewed by clicking here. Yet here again, we observe a ‘Human-S’ bias detection curve violation, in terms of drive-sustaining penalty-per-play awards to Raider opponents. All NFL teams stack nicely throughout a reasonable unbiased Human-S curve. Only one team does not.

The net uptake of this is that across their 16-game 2019 season for example, the Raiders had 37 more drives impacted negatively by penalties versus the average NFL team on their schedule – equating to a whopping 96 additional opponent score points (by this Net Drive Points chart from Sports Information Solutions.12 Above and beyond their opponents’ performances along this same index, this equates to at least an additional 6 points per game (because of unknown ball control minutes impact) being awarded to Raider 2019 opponents. Thereby making the difference between a 7 – 9 versus a 10 – 6 record (3 game victories lost) – not to mention the loss of a playoff berth. One can view the calculation tables for this set of data by clicking here. So yes, this disadvantage versus the NFL teams on the Raider’s 2019 schedule was a big deal in terms of their overall season success.

Argument #3 – History of Discipline versus Referee Discretion Penalties per Play

Moreover, calls for objective violations, such as delay of game, too many players on the field, or illegal passes/shifts/handoffs, etc., things which are not subject to referee interpretation – analyze these penalties and you find that the Raiders actually perform better in these penalty categories than the NFL average (see lower panel in chart on right). These are the ‘discipline indicator’ class of penalties. In this class of penalty, the Raiders rank in the top half of the NFL, right behind the New England Patriots, a team noted for its organizational discipline.

In contrast however, one can glean from the upper panel in the chart to the right, that the Raiders are penalized a full 24% higher than the average NFL team for subjective-call referee discretionary penalties. The Raiders are penalized a full 11% higher than even the #2 ranked NFL team in this class of penalty – a ridiculous margin of exception, and once again an extreme violation of the Human-S bias detection curve.

It is just a simple fact that the Raiders are examined by League officials with twice as much scrutiny for the violations of defensive holding, unnecessary roughness, offensive and defensive pass interference, roughing the passer, illegal pick, illegal contact and player disqualification. One can observe the analysis supporting this for NFL seasons 2009 – 2021 by clicking here.13

Accordingly, this renders bullshit the notion that the Raiders are more penalized than other NFL teams ‘because of shortfalls in coaching discipline’. If this were the case, there should be no differential between the objective versus interpretive penalty-type stats. In fact, inside the discipline indicator penalty class, the Raiders fare better than the average NFL team. But this broaches the question, do the coaching penalty statistics then corroborate this intelligence? Yes, as it happens, they do.

Argument #4 – Oakland/Las Vegas Raider Head Coach Penalty Burden

Further then falsifying this notion that excess Raider penalties are a result of coaching and discipline, are the NFL penalty statistics of the Raider head coaches themselves. Such a notion does not pan out under that evidence either. On average Raider head coaches have been penalized 31.6% higher in their years as a Raider head coach than in their years as head coach of another NFL team. However, for conservancy we have chosen in the graph to the right to weight average coach’s contribution by the number of years coached in each role. Thus, conservatively a Raider head coach is penalized 26.3% more in that role as compared to their head coaching stints both before and after their tenure as head coach of the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders.14

In 2020, head coach Jon Gruden was fined $150,000, and the Raiders organization was fined $500,000 and lost a 6th round draft pick, the largest penalty levied on any team or coach by far, for Gruden letting his Covid mask repeatedly slip too low on his face during a few intense communication moments coaching an NFL game.15 None of the players were wearing masks, and at times distant communication requires an ability to see a coach’s face. Such malicious and epidemiologically-ignorant retribution can only emanate from an organization with a mob mentality at play.

Accordingly, this significant disadvantage has been part of the impetus which has shortened many coach tenures with the Raiders, thereby helping account for the 3.3 year Raider average tenure, versus the 6.6 year average tenure on the part of the same group of coaches both before and after being head coach of the Raiders. One can observe this in the graph, which reflects a blend of eight NFL coaches over the 1979 – 2019 NFL seasons; all prominent NFL coaches who spent significant time – 16 years on average coaching both the Raiders as well as other NFL teams.16 Because of this, and partly because of the 2 to 3 extra losses per year attributable to officiating bias, the Raiders have turned over more coaches since 1995 than any other NFL team.17 This shtick is harming career professionals and their families through unfair mob tactics.

Not even one of the eight multiple-team head coaching nor eleven other-team assistant coaching roles in the entire history of the Raider organization bucked this trend of being higher penalized as a Raider head coach. Not even one of nineteen coaches. Let that sink in. All of these professionals had their careers damaged by the NFL.

There is no reasonable possibility, that all these coaches and their variety of organizations could be that undisciplined, almost every single season for 50 years. The data analysis supporting this graphic can be viewed by clicking here.

Argument #5 – Oakland/Las Vegas Raider Player Penalty Burden/Lack of Benefit

Statistically this coaching differential has to impute to the players’ performances as well, through the association of common base data. Former Raider cornerback D.J. Hayden portrayed this well in his recent contention that he was penalized more as an Oakland/Las Vegas Raider than with other teams. In fact if we examine the Pro Football Reference data, indeed Hayden was penalized a total of 35 times during his four years as a Raider defensive back, and only 11 times in his three years with Detroit and Jacksonville. This equates to 35 penalties in 45 games played for the Raiders, compared to only 11 penalties in 41 games played for other teams.18 That reflects a 65% reduction in penalty per game played and 55% reduction in penalty per snap played during his tenure with a team other than the Raiders.19

As one may observe in the chart to the above right, since the Raider’s current starting quarterback Derek Carr has entered the NFL, he’s benefited from 14 total ‘Roughing the Passer’ calls in 4142 passing attempts in 118 games. Not one quarterback who has ever played 4,000+ passing snaps, has fewer ‘Roughing the Passer’ calls to their benefit (Avg = 31.2 in the modern era of quarterback protection).20 The analysis behind this can be viewed by clicking here.

On the right, one can see that the Raiders defensive squad suffers as well from a lack of holding calls being made to their benefit for 2021. Such detrimental impact constitutes a disincentive for players to want to play for a team which is both penalized so often, and receives so little benefit from opposing team penalties – potentially marring their careers and negatively impacting their dreams for Pro Bowl, MVP or even Hall of Fame selections. This is part of the reason I believe, as to why the badge-of-honor tag-phrase has evolved “Once a Raider, Always a Raider”. In order to play for the Raiders, you pretty much have to acknowledge this shtick inside your career, and live with it for life. Should we now asterisk every player and coach in the NFL Hall of Fame with a ‘Played for the Oakland Raiders’ asterisk now? A kind of reverse steroid-penalty bias negatively impacting a player’s career?

In the end, all such systemic bias serves to do is erode NFL brand, cost the NFL its revenue – and most importantly, harm fans, players, coaches and families.

NFL, your brand and reputation has drifted since the infamous Tuck Rule Game, into becoming ‘Bill Belichick and the Zebra Street Boys’. Yours is a brand containing the word ‘National’, and as a league you should act accordingly to protect it. Nurture and protect it through a strategy of optimizing product quality.

And finally, the most idiotic thing one can do is to blame all this on the Oakland fans, as was done in this boneheaded article by the Bleacher Report on the Raider penalty problem from as far back as February 2012.

Collectively, all this is known inside any other professional context as ‘bias’ or could even be construed by angry fans as cheating – and when members of an organization are forced under financial/career penalty to remain silent about such activity (extortion, such as in the case of Jon Gruden’s past objections to NFL officiating), when you observe coaches and players and more importantly members of the free press as well, biting their tongue over this issue – this starts to become reminiscent of prohibition era 18 U.S.C. § 1961 – U.S. Code Racketeering activity.

When you examine the history of such data, much of this patterning in bias remains consistent, decade after decade. It is systemic. It is agency. One can find and download into a datamart or spreadsheet for their own derivation, the history of NFL penalties by game, type, team, etc. here: NFL Penalty Tracker. Go and look for yourself, and you will see that what I am saying is true.

This condition has gone on for five decades, ostensibly since, but in reality much further back than the notorious ‘Tuck Rule’ AFC Championship Game. The video of this game can no longer be found in its original form because the NFL edited out over 2 minutes of original broadcast air time, in order to conceal the game’s overturning – by means of a league phone call intervention with the referees, who had just issued the critical fumble call in favor of the Raiders – and handing the game instead to New England. In this same manner of cheat, the penalties which are called or not-called are of an interpretive nature – again those that occur most every single down, but are called on some teams consistently, and on other teams not so much.

A Profile in Modern Mafia-Like Activity

It took me a while in order to come to this realization that the NFL is indeed a modern form of mafia. Remember, that the Soviet Union was simply a criminal enterprise (mob) who took over Russia’s government so it could have exclusive ownership of the nation’s oil and gas reserves. The NFL employs the same tactics as that resurgent mob uses to enforce their will on European trading partners even today.21 The NFL has refused to shake off this vendetta for more than 50 years now. Moreover, because of

  • the presence of closed-door threats and fines to its members in order to silence them,22
  • preplanned hit-jobs on disfavored members which sought to harm those targeted members in a context and to a degree beyond that of mere employment; essentially seeking to in-advance, maliciously/vengefully/publicly destroy their chosen livelihood, family, and life, and not simply ‘terminate them for cause’ (such as the case of NFL-officiating and Roger Goodell critic Jon Gruden in 2021),23 24
  • constraint of trade in player contracts/draft picks,25
  • harm to coaches’ and players’ careers (see Arguments #3 and 4 above),26
  • monopolistic overcharging for services,27
  • constraint of trade (trust) activity,28
  • predatory market control and blocking of access/promotion (monopoly) activity,29
  • contract fraud with customers (see below),30
  • the NFL’s admission in a court of law that NFL games may at times indeed be fixed (Mayer v. Belichick/NFL, 2010),31
  • the revenue gained through under-the-table and malicious manipulation of the success of specific football teams/games/seasons,32 and finally
  • the incumbent manipulated flow (from all of the above) of grey market money (gambling fraud),33

the National Football League is actually not a cartel, rather they are therefore more akin to a modern mafia by definition.34 35 Apparently, some bad blood developed between power silos back in the NFL-AFL merger, and that acrimony has persisted to this day – just as is characteristic of any mafia. Businesses forget being crossed as people turn over through the years. Mafias however, never forget.

Businesses forget, mafias however do not.

This as much as anything is indicative of the NFL’s mafia mindset. To wit, the NFL had to be forced by the US Supreme Court in a 2010 case, to admit its hidden contract terms outlining that fans are not purchasing viewing rights to a ‘fair’ event in the first place.36 The NFL tacitly admitted in this legal case that any particular game might indeed be fixed (no stipulation as to ‘by whom’).

The NFL argued in Mayer v. Belichick, 2010 in essence, that since it cannot guarantee that players, coaches, or officials will not cheat, therefore it cannot guarantee the paying spectator a ‘fair’ game – but rather merely, ‘entertainment’. Therefore, under this legal permissive, the NFL regards itself as bearing defacto license to also cheat as it may see fit.37

However, it is contract fraud to bill customers38 who are being misled that they are watching or wagering upon unbiased games of skill, chance and coaching in purchase of a product which is touted to be one thing, but is delivered as a form of charade. I personally paid $29,000 to NFL Sunday Ticket and DirectTV over the last two decades of viewing NFL games, being misled by the false NFL claim that I was enjoining sporting league events wherein my preferred (or wagered) team, the Raiders, had a chance of success through skill, draft selection, talent, coaching, and ball bounces. I was not disclosed the NFL organization’s conspiracy to disadvantage the Raiders, when I entered into this agreement.

The targeting of the Raider franchise is a materially different legal litmus than the NFL’s simply not being able to guarantee a ‘fair’ game. The instance wherein an organization maliciously and consistently disfavors a single team (business) over decades (to the harm of many financially at-risk entities), remains contract fraud, conspiracy in restraint of trade (trust activty), and racketeering – separate legal torts from the NFL’s ‘fair game’ argument disclosed in Mayer v. Belichick. Someone will eventually press this legal distinction and will win their case.

Finally, regardless of the NFL’s ‘fair game’ exclusion, if a Party withholds the terms of a contract they solicited to another Party, only later revealing those terms in the context of a ‘counter-argument’ in a legal proceeding regarding that contract, then a fortiori the contract was fraudulent in the inception. Those terms had to be disclosed prior to the agreement taking place. Disclosing those terms in a 2010 Supreme Court case, is far too after-the-fact to avoid contract fraud collective action brought by millions of financially harmed Raider spectators like myself.

If the NFL had subtexted in its ads promoting its network games or NFL Sunday Ticket,
“The NFL reserves the right to influence individual game outcomes and moreover favor or disfavor
various teams at its sole discretion.” well then they would have an argument.

The NFL failed to inform me however, that my preferred team would be surreptitiously and maliciously
disfavored, to the point where they bore no chance of success at all.

This is a pivotal reason why I dumped NFL Sunday Ticket and DirectTV. I am not into being bilked of hard-earned household money by a mafia.

Update (Dec 2019): NFL is reportedly planning a “top-down review” of the league’s officiating during the 2020 offseason.

Such shenanigans represent the everpresence and impact of agency (not merely bias). Bias can be mitigated; however, agency involves the power incumbent with such structures as the cartel, cabal and mafia. This case example in corruption regarding the NFL demonstrates how mob-Soviet-agency can manipulate inflection dynamics to reach a desired tipping point – after which one can sit in their university or league office and enjoy tenure, all the way to magnanimous victory. The only tasks which remain are to protect the indigo point secret formula by means of an appropriate catch phrase, and as well ensure that one does not have any mirrors hanging about, so that you do not have to look at yourself.

An ethical skeptic maintains a different view as to how people should be treated, and championships, ethical markets, as well as scientific understanding, should be prosecuted and won.

The Ethical Skeptic, “NFL Bias Against the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 20 Oct 2021; Web, https://theethicalskeptic.com/?p=53350