Really, NFL?

Posted: September 25, 2012 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Simultaneous possession, huh?

I had another post all set to run in this spot and then the Screw Job in Seattle happened. It cannot not be ignored. And it seemed unlikely anybody else in America would write about it.

In case you missed it, the Seahawks beat the Packers – full disclosure: the only team in sports that I genuinely root for – 14-12 on Monday night in Seattle by scoring a Hail Mary touchdown on the final play of the game. Except it sure looked like they didn’t score. The pass seemed to be intercepted by Green Bay on a jump-ball situation in the end zone and then Seahawks WR Golden Tate latched onto the back of the defender after falling to the ground. One official on the spot signaled to stop the clock, as it if was a turnover. Another official, standing two feet away, raised his hands to rule a touchdown. The touchdown call won out on the field and again through replay.

In real time, I thought ESPN messed up, that somebody in the production truck accidentally put up the touchdown graphic instead of the interception graphic. I’m serious. It was both to the naked eye, the replay and the letter of the rulebook an interception. Yet the replacement officials ruled it a touchdown. Even my half-asleep and pregnant wife could tell that something wasn’t right.


Deep breath.

Frankly, I’ve been considering in the last couple days defending the replacement refs. I felt like if they could be mistaken for the regular refs if, say, hidden by blurry spots. It seemed like fans were piling on, the way they might treat a substitute teacher in junior high. The players and coaches have been doing the same thing, getting chippy with each other knowing the officials weren’t really in control and likewise getting aggressive in their treatment of the officials. Can you imagine Bill Belichick putting his hands on Ed Hochuli? Not without getting knocked out.

But then my team got victimized – by one of the most egregious calls in recent NFL history – and it became a whole lot easier to see what everyone else has been complaining about. Funny how that works.

Missed calls are one thing – they happen all the time, regular or replacement refs. The Green Bay-Seattle game had plenty of those, too. Fine. Some went one way and some went the other way. They were big calls, questionable calls. But they were nothing like what happened in the end when all hell broke loose on Monday Night Football, a showcase of the most popular sports league in world history.

Respect the Shield? How about the Shield respecting its players, coaches and fans? On that final play, receiver Golden Tate first hammers a defensive back from behind in advance of the ball arriving, then doesn’t truly catch the ball – no, that was not a simultaneous possession – yet is awarded a game-winning touchdown in a national television game between two potential playoff teams. He might as well have gone all “The Last Boy Scout” and pulled a gun – the refs weren’t going to do anything about it.

At first, they seemed to be merely sub-par as football officials, but a ruling like this makes them seem sub-par in terms of normal human intelligence. And what does that make the people who have put them in charge of this gazillion-dollar game?

If this goes on for many (or any?) more weeks, can Roger Goodell survive as commissioner?

A popular counterpoint on Twitter: Green Bay shouldn’t have put itself in that situation or should have batted down the final ball. That’s got merit to the extent that coaches and players will have to take that approach in order to get over this loss, to prevent the situation from costing them two games. But the Packers DID execute on the final play, pulling down an interception except it wasn’t called that way.

It’s insane to think that the NFL has survived and thrived despite rule changes, the HD television experience, high ticket prices, performance-enhancement drugs, concussions and player-related labor issues yet is now being thrown into turmoil by a relatively small money issue with its usually anonymous officials.

Still, I wound up chuckling a bunch after the anger subsided. Why? Because Twitter is awesome on night like this, when something that’s only sort of important in the grand scheme of things happens. Hilarious (a couple Packers dropping f-bombs on the NFL) and insightful (definitive pics of the disputed play) stuff, a real-time reminder that life goes on.

  1. inukshuk says:

    I’d hardly blame the refs, though – they don’t have the training and/or experience to be NFL refs. Blame the league for putting them in a position that is too much for them to handle.

    I don’t follow the NFL, but this has shown me that the NHL isn’t the only league with CBA issues… sad.

  2. Anonymous says:

    If it had to happen this way where a team got screwed, I couldn’t have imagined it happening in any better way. LOL

    • Do you mean on a big stage like MNF? Or to the Packers?

      • Lance Nelson says:

        I meant that it happend to the Packers. But the big stage did take a distant second in that race. BTW, I am not sure how to feel about this but as ESPN and NFL network continue to pound this story into the ground and contiually show the play, I continue to enjoy it more and more each time I see it. Does that make me a bad person, especially since I am an aspiring basketball official. lol

      • Yes, it probably makes you a bad person. Related note: I’m surprised and impressed how the folks at ESPN and the NFL Network have been so brutally honest about this. I feared they might “protect the Shield.”

  3. nash12 says:

    The Packers did execute the last play similar to any other game that ends in a controversial call. If I play basketball and block a game-winning shot, I executed the play, right? Unless the ref calls a foul on me and they sink the free throws. It happens all the time in all sports. Dont put yourself in position to be “screwed over” and it wont matter. Especially to an inferior team.

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