A travesty. An atrocity. An abomination. A disgrace. A debacle. A fiasco.
Those were just a few of the more printable descriptions applied to Monday night’s NFL contest between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers, destined hereafter to be known as The Game That Will Live in Infamy.
In case you didn’t catch the shabby spectacle live or on video, here’s what happened:
Green Bay 12, Seattle 7. Seahawks have the ball on the Packer 24 with eight ticks left on the game clock. Seattle QB Russell Wilson heaves a Hail Mary pass into the end zone, where a mob of Seahawks and Packers are waiting. Green Bay defender M.D. Jennings and Seattle receiver Golden Tate leap up in the crowd to make the catch. Jennings grabs it with both hands, but Tate manages to get one hand on it.
Two of the NFL’s replacement officials are right on top of the play. One waves his arms above his head as if to signal an interception and a touchback. The other lifts his arms straight above his head in the touchdown signal.
Although the video replay showed Jennings had clear possession of the ball, holding it with both hands and clutching it to his chest, the touchdown ruling stood. Final score: Seattle 14, Green Bay 12.
Tate’s game-winning “catch” wasn’t just an Immaculate Reception – it was an Invisible Reception.
And the touchdown call was only the last – and worst – in a series of officiating blunders during the game’s closing minutes, including failing to call Tate for flagrant pass interference in the end zone just before his “catch.”
If there’s any silver lining to this pathetic outcome (except for Seattle and its fans) it’s that it might finally motivate the NFL owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell to end their lockout of the union NFL officials and get the scab officials off the field.
Fan outrage has been boiling over on social network sites. Even politicians are getting into the act, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who tweeted Tuesday morning: “After catching a few hours of sleep, the #Packers game is still just as painful. #Returntherealrefs.” (The irony of the union-busting Walker sticking up for union NFL officials was not lost on his political opponents.) The controversy reportedly reached all the way to the White House with President Obama tweeting on Tuesday that he hoped the lockout, "be ended soon."
We shouldn’t be too hard on the replacement officials; they’re doing the best they can. But their best just isn’t good enough. They don’t have the training or experience to handle NFL action. Three games into the regular season, their incompetence already has cost one team a win it should have had.
Much worse than that, their incompetence sooner or later is going to get somebody seriously hurt on the field. Because they’re too indecisive to control the game, more brawls are breaking out. Because they miss so many calls, players are taking – and getting away with – more cheap shots.
The NFL owners and Goodell need to end the lockout and get the regular officials back in action ASAP – preferably before next Sunday. For not having done it long before things came to this sorry pass, they get THE BOOT.