CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After nearly ten minutes of review following a critical third down play that was originally ruled a fumble on Panthers running back Deangelo Williams, referee Jim Core announced to a confused stadium that the Citizens United ruling of 2010 was, in fact, unconstitutional.
Core delivered the majority opinion, stating, “After further review, the ruling on the field has been overturned. The player retained control of the ball, and the concept of corporate personhood is inconsistent with the basic constitutional definition of the person.” Of course, immediate uproar followed, with Panthers fans applauding the landmark decision, which will certainly have far reaching legal and judicial implications, while irate Giants fans demanded that it was a fumble.
The replacement NFL officials, under strict scrutiny for their indecision and lack of experience while difficult bargaining talks go on with the regular NFL referee crews, apparently felt it was time to make a real statement and assert their authority.
“At first we were only trying to determine whether or not a fumble in fact occurred,” said line judge Joshua Thurow after the game. “But then we realized that, to truly judge a fumble one must be able to determine the exact instant possession is gained or lost, but there were no definite points indicating possession that weren’t arbitrary. If you can’t say exactly when the ball was lost, can you really call a fumble?”
The replacement refs reached back into Pop Warner Common Law, in which they are experts, and found that the idea of ‘possession’ as a definite state applies to teams having control of the ball, and was ultimately impossible to prove for individual players.
“Of course, we recognized the implications immediately,” said Thurow. “If possession of a ball was inherently different for a team as opposed to an individual, did that not also apply to possession of free speech and influence for corporations as opposed to individual citizens?” The play ultimately resulted in a scoring drive for Carolina.
Panther’s running back Deangelo Williams, who was originally charged with the fumble, said of the call, “Man, to me it’s a question you have to frame in the concept of free speech. It represents a divergence between positive and negative conceptions of liberty, and when you think of corporate money as necessarily limiting individual speech, then it becomes clear that there’s no way I fumbled.”