The National Football League issued a statement today confirming what anyone who’s not a Seattle Seahawks fan and who wasn’t masquerading as a professional football official already knew; Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate committed blatant, obvious, and criminal interference on the last play of the game that cost the Green Bay Packers the contest.
As for the other egregious error by the Pop Warner officials — the sure interception by Green Bay cornerback M.D. Jennings — the league stood behind the decision of the referee who decided that one hand by Tate on the ball constituted “simultaneous possession,” despite the fact that Jennings was clutching the ball to his chest and clearly had sole possession of the rock.
For those who missed it, a brief summary:
On the final play of “Monday Night Football,” Russell Wilson heaved a 24-yard pass into a scrum in the end zone with Seattle trailing 12-7. Tate shoved away a defender with both hands, and the NFL acknowledged Tuesday he should have been penalized, which would have clinched a Packers victory. But that lack of a call cannot be reviewed by instant replay.
Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings then both got their hands on the ball, though the Packers insisted Jennings had clear possession for a game-ending interception.
“It was pinned to my chest the whole time,” Jennings said.
Instead, the officials ruled on the field that the two had simultaneous possession, which counts as a reception. Once that happened, the NFL said, the referee was correct that no indisputable visual evidence existed on review to overturn the touchdown call.
That’s nonsense. Replays clearly showed Jennings in possession of the ball before Tate managed to get a hand on it. By the time the referee sauntered over to take a look-see, Tate had wrapped both hands around the ball — while it was still glued to Jenning’s chest.
In a perfect metaphor for the abysmal officiating that has plauged the games this season, the referee raised both arms to signal a touchdown for Seattle while the line judge, who was actually closer to the play, waved his arms to stop the clock — a signal for a change of possession. Here’s the pic:
Absolutely gutless response by the league over this controversy:
Instead of fully owning up to an inexcusable series of events, the league admitted one mistake and took an end-around to avoid the other. Its response comes nowhere close to suggesting the league has been chastened, humbled or deeply concerned by a game decided on two bad calls by substandard officials. Instead, it reads more like an explanation for any other run-of-the-mill controversy we’ve seen over the years.
We posted the entire statement in the previous post. It notes that Seahawks receiver Golden Tate “can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the ground” while Russell Wilson’s Hail Mary pass was in the air. The NFL acknowledged “[t]his should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended the game.” Conveniently, however, “[i]t was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay.”
OK, that’s a fair admission. But on the more-discussed issue of whether Tate or Packers safety M.D. Jennings had earned possession of the ball, the NFL offered a blatantly passive response that never addressed the question. Instead, the NFL merely stated: “When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings had possession of the ball. Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the offensive player. The result of the play was a touchdown.”
But were the officials correct in determining there was, in fact, simultaneous possession of the ball? As we noted earlier, one official near the play ruled a touchdown and the other touchback. The NFL weakly avoided that issue entirely. Instead, it merely supported the decision to uphold the original call via replay.
It’s time to bring the real refs back:
Goodell has been perpetrating a fraud on his customers. The commissioner had been advertising one product and selling another, promising something real and delivering something fake. Goodell set fire to his own brand by allowing games played and coached by the best of the best to be officiated by a propped-up group that included tailgating fans, fantasy league contestants and, of course, Lingerie League leftovers.
Bill Belichick suddenly became the ugly face of the farce by chasing one of these guys off the field Sunday night, but this has been Goodell’s game from start to finish. If he did his legacy a ton of favors by attacking the issues of player safety and concussions, he’s busy right now spraying graffiti all over that legacy.
“Awful,” Aaron Rodgers called the officiating that stole the Packers’ rightful victory.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years of football,” said his coach, Mike McCarthy.
I’m with you, coach. Never seen anything like it.
Meanwhile, back at the Goodell ranch, negotiations with the real refs continue. I love this bit of misdirection from the league office:
In light of Monday’s dispute, the NFL issued a statement on the labor dispute with the referees.
“There is broad agreement that the quality and consistency of officiating can and should be improved.”
How to accomplish that is a critical issue separating the two sides in this negotiation,” the statement read. “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.
“We have made a number of specific proposals to accomplish that, including by developing a deeper, more diverse talent pool that is trained in NFL officiating earlier and more intensively.”
Yeah, right. But what about the integrity of the game in the interim? Goodell’s little labor ploy in locking out the real officials is making a laughingstock of the league — not to mention getting fans angry at the blown calls, disorganization, and failure of the fake zebras to take command of the game.
Something better happen soon or the damage done to the game will see the league a long time recovering.