O'Donnell: Aikman knew that yellow pixies -- not the Bears -- beat Tampa Bay
TROY AIKMAN WAS working very hard to hold his tongue last Thursday night.
And he almost succeeded.
The Hall of Famer is far too facile an NFL broadcaster to go overboard when a carny show is unfolding on the field.
But that's what it was as the "yellow pixies" -- those remarkably timed, baffling calls by officials -- enabled the Bears to bounce back and "beat" Tampa Bay 20-19.
The No. 1 implicit charge of a contemporary NFL officiating crew, for those not paying close attention, is to hold audience as deep into a telecast as possible.
Occasionally -- as in Tennessee's 42-16 dismantling of Buffalo Tuesday -- a team is so ill-prepared and lacking focus such doctoring would stretch credibility too far.
But too many blowouts like that would also cost the league viewer interest and, in the end, advertising and other ancillary dollars.
So we have L'Affaire Bears-Bucs and two game-changing "calls."
The first came late in the first half with Tom Brady and Co. leading 13-0 and the Bears facing third-and 12 at their 39.
Right guard Germain Ifedi moved. Linebacker Shaq Barrett came flying.
Yellow pixie -- offsides on Barrett.
Suddenly sparked, the Bears moved 56 yards in six plays, capped by David Montgomery's TD run, the first rushing touchdown of the season by the blessed Monsters.
The homies walked off at halftime up 14-13. But Aikman couldn't help himself during the second half open alongside Joe Buck.
"The big turnaround there in that first half was the offsides penalty on Shaq Barrett," Aikman said.
"I mean, it was third-and-11 (sic) right there and they should have called that on Germain Ifedi and had they, it backs them up some and they probably don't convert and the whole thing changes."
The second yellow pixie came with 3:58 to go, the Bears trailing 19-17, and a third-and-19 at their own 16.
Nick Foles missed Ted Ginn Jr. on a sideline route and Matt Nagy's stumblin' crew moved closer to defeat's doorstep.
But once again, miracle flag.
Barrett was called for a "roughing the passer" penalty that both Aikman and on-air officiating sage Mike Pereira immediately diced.
"I don't like the call at all," Aikman said. "It's terrible."
Added Pereira: "(Barrett) is coming in high but the helmet contact is incidental. It's more shoulder-to-shoulder and I don't like that as a foul."
Whatever, pixies ruled and a short while later, the Bears had their fairy-dusted victory.
The bottom-line reality is anyone who watches an NFL game -- or even more emotively, bets it -- has to understand even in the new age of immersive legalized gambling, the games can still play out like animated storyboards at a Disney studio.
The imagineers behind those yellow pixies would probably prefer to call it, "the marvelous business of show."
ANOTHER OMINOUS SIGN the end is approaching for Arlington Park:
Director of racing Chris Polzin has resigned to accept a similar position at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in suburban Indianapolis.
Polzin -- who started working at AP as a parking lot attendant in 1978 -- was without question the most competent remaining executive on the local oval's skeletal staff.
He's the son of the late, great Elmer Polzin, who began his 44-year run in Chicago racing and newspapering as Dave Feldman's legman at the old Herald-American in 1944.
Polzin will begin his new assignment at the Eldorado-Caesars racino next week.
Yeoman survivor Dave White is expected to be named his replacement at AP.
STREET-BEATIN': As inadvertently predicted, the postgame TV criticisms of Rick Renteria by Ozzie Guillen and Frank Thomas during the White Sox's meltdown proved to be accurate harbingers of doom. (For their next trick, maybe "The Blizzard" and "The Big Hurt" can predict the presidential race.) ...
If he can find the money and the moxie, ESPN AM 1000's Mike Thomas would change the balance of chatter in Chicago sports talk by hiring Jay Mariotti. ...
Mariotti -- who knows no other way -- on the next Sox manager: "Now Jerry Reinsdorf, 'Mr. Integrity,' will make his choice between two cheats." (Will those two ever exchange holiday cards?) ...
Forget The Bubble: LeBron James and the Lakers might as well have clinched the NBA championship in an octopus's garden. (The Finals, quite unnaturally, were the lowest-rated ever.) ...
WBBM-Channel 2 has been advertising for a new sports anchor/reporter since mid-September. (Kevin Lynn and Howard Sudberry must not be available.) ...
And ESPN's Rich Cimini -- on the biggest weakness of the 0-5 New York Jets -- deadpanned: "Football."
• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.