By Tim Keown
Page 2

Welcome to Conspiracy Nation, where a holding call is no longer a holding call and a foul against Duke is merely a figment of your imagination.

Darrell Jackson
Did the refs have it in for the Seahawks? Hmmm ...

A questionable pass interference call goes against Seattle? Someone might think it curious to discover the official who made the call is from Pittsburgh. But here in Conspiracy Nation, that news is simply received with a raised eyebrow and a knowing nod.

A bogus technical costs Florida State one of its best players in an overtime loss to Duke? You think we didn't see that coming? It came less than a week after a bogus non-call against Duke cost Boston College a chance to come back in the final seconds against the Blue Devils.

The officials from the Florida State game were suspended for one game, but we all know a clumsy cover-up always follows the crime.

What we see here in Conspiracy Nation is a world where people have grown accustomed to looking over their shoulders. Our cars tell us where we are. We carry our phones and our e-mail in our pockets. And who knows? The NSA might be listening in.

There is no coincidence. We don't believe in that here, not anymore.

So it flows logically that sometimes a tackle can become an illegal block. We aren't surprised. A tackle became a block? We nod knowingly.

This Week's List
The strangest thing about the whole Duke-gets-every-call phenomenon: With everybody hating the Blue Devils, shouldn't it work the other way?

The first book to come out of the Super Bowl: "To Punt Too Far: The Tom Rouen Story."

What I learned during the Super Bowl: The offspring of an ugly dinosaur and C3PO is an H3.

Worst new slogan: "Brown and Bubbly" -- this, I must admit, does not evoke an image that makes me thirsty.

And on Wednesday, I went to the store, ate a burger and sat down to figure out a way to call a tackle a block: There's more hue and cry over making NFL officials full-time employees, but does anyone honestly think the football establishment needs to devote even more time to convoluting the rules and making more out of less?

Speaking as someone whose son has played high school basketball against Joe Montana's son, with Joe in the stands, I can say the following: Joe's serious enough about his son's basketball that I completely believe him when he says he skipped the Super Bowl MVP festivities to watch his son play a game.

In other words, there's none of that "Oh, hey -- isn't that John Candy?" stuff when he sits in the wooden bleachers: As a spectator/parent, Montana can be described as "active."

The toughest job for NBA scouts preparing for the draft: Evaluating Adam Morrison's skills as a passer while working with such a small sample size.

The return of Digest-O-Man: This week's unwanted mass e-mail from the publicist for Bill Downs, the king of digestion, arrived under the subject line "Post-Super Bowl Food Hangovers."

The goal of every man is be to known for something: Downs, according to the release, is the author of "the first fart blog."

Cut, wrapped and sold -- everything's a commercial: After watching the Rolling Stones offend no one and entertain no one Sunday, it became clear that Janet Jackson's performance two years ago forever ended even the idea of any sort of cutting-edge Super Bowl entertainment.

One reason to like George Karl: His teams still occasionally run a legitimate full-court press.

After watching St. Mary's get jobbed by a hometown clock operator and some questionable officiating, the question has to be asked: Is Gonzaga the new Duke?

They frustrated and confused both Adam Morrison and Nick Fazekas: The St. Mary's Gaels.

How they handled Morrison: They beat his ass up, that's how.

Just one more reason we're proud to be American: Scott Baird, a 54-year-old curler from Minnesota, will become the oldest Winter Olympian.

The good thing is, global warming eventually will cause palm trees to sprout in midtown Manhattan, thereby eliminating the need to worry: According to "Outside The Lines," the NFL has entertained the notion of moving the conference championship games to neutral sites.

Everybody's sentimental favorite lets it all hang out: Jerome Bettis managed to drop all modesty and hail himself at a pretty good clip after the game ended Sunday.

Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.

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