I know I already had my say about the NFL’s replacement refs last week—but that was before they had a direct impact on my team. Last night’s Monday Night Football debacle overshadowed what was an amazing performance by the Seattle Seahawks defense when, with no time left on the clock, Russell Wilson threw a pass into a crowd in the corner of the end zone, only to have both Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings and Hawks receiver Golden Tate come down with their hands on the ball. Well, to be fair, Jennings had two hands on the ball; Tate got one arm in at the last second, but it was ruled a simultaneous catch (tie goes to the receiver) and upheld by video review. Good thing I watched that game at home, since my reaction as the drama unfolded woulda got me kicked out of my local watering hole.
Don’t get me wrong, Seattle has been on the wrong side of an official screwjob before *cough*Super Bowl XL*cough*, so the win was some form of remittance, I suppose, but the call on the final play was just the icing on top of a nylon sundae, as penalty flags clearly affected the outcome of the game, even had the final play been ruled differently. At least a couple Packers drives were extended by calls against the Hawks, some of which were highly questionable, on third down, whereas Seattle isn’t even in position to lob the ball to the back pylon were it not for a dicey pass-interference call drawn by Sidney Rice a couple plays prior. But those penalties didn’t literally decide the game. The ruling on the Hail Mary did.
In the day after what I’m hereby referring to as the Scab Ref Bowl, the NFL has gone out and issued an official statement. No, they will not overturn the result of the game; even though they acknowledge that Tate was guilty of a major push-off before going up for the ball. Instead, they seem to be doubling down on their efforts to get the regular refs back in the game, although their rhetoric is a tad bizarre. “While the officials’ union would like to turn this into purely an economic dispute, we have told the union and the federal mediator that we are prepared to make reasonable economic compromises and that we will invest more money in officiating as long as it assures long-term improvement.” Long-term improvement, eh? How’s this for an improvement—get the scabs off the field!
Remember how when the whistle blew, one ref signaled touchdown, while another seemed to indicate that the ball was intercepted? Turns out the man who made the call that broke the Packers’ backs was the least-experienced member of the crew. As ESPN reports, side judge Lance Easley had just four years of experience officiating Division III college football, according the league’s office. So if that seemed like a bush-league call, well, it kinda was.
Suffice to say, four years of Div III does not qualify you to decide the outcome of an NFL contest. I have nothing more to say on this matter, except…