Bad call in Packer game dominates Wisconsinites' conversations TuesdayWisconsin Sports
-- The first topic of conversation in most of Wisconsin today was how the Green Bay Packers apparently got robbed by the NFL’s replacement officials last night in their 14-12 loss at Seattle.
The first topic of conversation in most of Wisconsin today was how the Green Bay Packers apparently got robbed by the NFL’s replacement officials last night in their 14-12 loss at Seattle.
The Seahawks scored the winning touchdown on the final play. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw a 24-yard Hail Mary pass to the back of the end zone, where Packers’ safety M.D. Jennings looked to have the ball clutched to his chest for an interception, while Seattle receiver Golden Tate had just his arms on the ball while landing underneath Jennings. One official on the field called it a touchdown, and another called it an interception. After a few minutes, the officials ruled it a touchdown, and NFL replay official Howard Slavin – who’s not a replacement – upheld the call. Referee Wayne Elliott said both players possessed it, and Seattle coach Pete Carroll said the ball and the touchdown were correctly awarded to his receiver. Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy – knowing that other NFL coaches have been fined up to $50,000 for criticizing replacement officials – restrained himself by saying he’s never seen anything like this.
Green Bay players were also restrained in their remarks to reporters. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers simply called it “awful.” But they later went on Twitter with a battering of obscenity-laced tweets. Packers’ guard T.J. Lang wrote that the league should quote, “fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs.” Packers’ guard Josh Sitton tweeted that the league should get its normal officials back quote, “before we strike and they make no money.”
Even Wisconsin Senate Democrat Jon Erpenbach of Middleton got his two cents in. He sent a message to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office phone. And Erpenbach said in a separate tweet that if last night’s final call did not spark an end to the league’s lockout of the unionized officials quote, “This season will be a joke.” The loss dropped the Packers to 1-2 – their worst three-game record since 2006, in McCarthy’s first season in Green Bay.
The NFL said today it would not reverse last night’s controversial 14-12 win by the Seattle Seahawks over the Green Bay Packers. In a statement, the league did indicate that Seattle receiver Golden Tate should have been called for offensive pass interference when he pushed Packers’ corner Sam Shields on the final play. That would have ended the game with Green Bay winning 12-7. But pass interference is not reviewable by instant replay. So the league upheld the final part of the play, what it called a “simultaneous catch” by Tate and Packers safety M.D. Jennings. The league said both players had the ball when they hit the ground in the end zone, and therefore the ball is awarded to the offensive team. And after a review by replay official, the referee determined there was no indisputable video evidence to overturn the call. The Packers argued that Jennings had clear possession, clutching the ball to his stomach while Tate landed with only his arms around the ball. Packers’ guard Josh Sitton said early this afternoon that he did not buy the NFL’s explanation – and he said the league needs to quote, “admit and apologize before we can get over it.” Sitton was among those writing obscenity-laced criticisms of the league and the officials on Twitter. He said he has no clue if he’ll be fined for it, but quote, “I shouldn’t be fined for speaking the truth.” Sitton also said the NFL owners should be blamed for the officiating problems and quote, “They need to get the situation fixed.”
A small number of Green Bay Packers’ fans showed up at Lambeau Field this morning to protest the replacement officials’ call that gave Seattle a 14-12 win over the Pack last night. Packers’ safety M.D. Jennings came down with what appeared to be an interception of a Hail Mary pass from Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson with time running out. But Seattle receiver Golden Tate managed to get his arms around the ball while he was underneath Jennings’ body – and the officials called a touchdown that was confirmed by a replay reviewer. Four protestors told the Green Bay Press-Gazette that they showed up at Lambeau just after midnight, and a few others joined them after the sun came up. Seth Wagnitz said the NFL’s regular officials need to return because quote, “It has cost us a game, and that shouldn’t be happening.” The replacements are generally from the NCAA’s Divisions II and III – and they’re filling in while the regular officials are being locked out by the NFL in a labor dispute.
A politician in New Jersey is doing more than just complaining about the NFL’s replacement officials. New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney said he’s introducing a bill to ban professional sporting events in the Garden State that use fill-in officials. He announced the measure today, after an apparent blown call on a Hail Mary pass gave the Seattle Seahawks a 14-12 win over the Green Bay Packers on Monday night. Sweeney said the past weekend’s games quote, “made a mockery of a great sport,” and it “shined a very bright light on how important fully-trained and professional officiating is to player safety.” No other politician would go as far as banning replacement officials, but some have had plenty to say. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose claim to fame is cutting off most public union bargaining rights, called for a return of the unionized NFL officials. His critics mocked him for it, but Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said it has quote, “nothing to do with labor and everything to do with a blown call.” Today, the NFL said the touchdown call was justified. The league said the officials should have called pass interference on Seattle receiver Golden Tate for pushing Green Bay’s Sam Shields just before the catch. But the penalty was not reviewable, and the game result is final. Packers’ guard Josh Sitton refused to buy the league’s explanation – and he said the NFL should come to Green Bay and apologize.
“It’s a sad day to be an NFL fan.” Those words came this morning from a top players’ union official, in the wake of the apparently-blown touchdown call that decided last night’s 14-12 Green Bay Packers’ loss at Seattle. On ESPN Radio’s “Mike-and-Mike in the Morning,” union external affairs director George Atallah said he would not point the finger exclusively at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, like many Packer fans are doing. He said the players have quote, “got to put leverage on the league office and the owners” to resolve the lockout of the regular officials. And he said the players will continue to express their feelings and concerns about player safety. The Packers lost after Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a Hail Mary pass that Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings caught at first for an interception – but Seattle receiver Golden Tate managed to get his arms around the ball, and the officials called it a touchdown. It was ruled that the two had simultaneous possession, which gives the offense the ball. ESPN game broadcaster Jon Gruden called the ruling “tragic” and “comical.” Tate shoved Packers’ corner Sam Shields to the ground just before the catch, which would normally be considered pass interference on the offense – but Gruden said the penalty is almost never called on desperation passes. The loss dropped Green Bay to 1-2, a game behind Minnesota and Chicago in the NFC North. The Packers host New Orleans on Sunday.
The Packers reported no injuries as the result of last night’s loss to Seattle. Rookie defensive end Jerel Worthy left in the second quarter with an apparent leg injury, but he returned. Meanwhile, Packers’ tight end Andrew Quarless says he’ll be ready when he’s eligible to return in three weeks. Quarless had reconstructive surgery after tearing his right knee last December against the New York Giants. He’s on the NFL’s physically unable to perform list – which means he won’t be eligible to return until after Week-Six of the season. Quarless says he has stepped up the intensity of his workouts in recent weeks. He insists he feels good, and he’s polishing his game so he’ll be totally ready when he’s eligible to return.
A sports economist at Saint Norbert College in De Pere said the officiating fiasco in last night’s Packer loss at Seattle is not trivial. Kevin Quinn said it could end up costing businesses a lot of money – especially if it means that the 1-2 Packers don’t make the playoffs in January. That’s a very real possibility, because both Green Bay losses were against teams in the Packers’ own NFC – and those games get more weight in the tiebreakers that determine playoff berths. Quinn says a home playoff game brings an extra eight-million dollars to Green Bay’s economy in the form of tickets, concessions, hotels, gas, restaurant meals, and more. And he says the impact throughout Wisconsin could be much higher, in the forms of travel, team playoff clothing, and food-and-drinks for bars and house parties. In a big city like Chicago or New York, Quinn says the economic impact of a Packer playoff game is barely a blip-on-the-screen. But Wisconsin’s population is smaller than the Chicago area and New York City, and Quinn says it drives up the impact. Roundy’s, a Milwaukee food distributor, told federal regulators that the Packers’ playoff loss to the New York Giants last January resulted in a significant decline in its sales-and-earnings from the year before, when the Packers won the Super Bowl.