I love football. I have enjoyed watching NFL football since I was a child. I was born in Wisconsin just after the famed “Ice Bowl.” I grew up a Packer fan, but I’ve come to enjoy watching the sport whenever it’s played well regardless of the teams involved.
Perhaps as a Packer fan, I am more upset than most about the travesty which occurred on Monday night. A series of bad calls changed the outcome of the game and gave the Seattle Seahawks a victory they did not earn on the field. The officials are not supposed to determine who wins; the players are.
As a fan watching the game, let me give you my experience of the comedy of errors that culminated in the worst call in NFL history. It’s important because this wasn’t just a single bad call. It was a series of bad calls, any one of which would have changed the outcome of the game if the right call had been made.
- Deep in their own territory, the Seattle quarterback throws an interception which would have iced the game for the Packers. A penalty flag comes in for roughing the passer. This one is a judgement call, and an argument can be made that the defender actually did rough the passer, but it was a poor judgement, and no penalty should have been called. No penalty means a turnover and the end of the game. Packer victory.
- Later in the drive, Seattle is facing long yardage for a first down. A long pass play is punctuated by obvious offensive pass interference as the receiver practically climbs up the defender to prevent an interception. When the flag comes out, it never occurred to me the defender would actually get called for the foul. The defender was not the one making contact. This blown call turned what would have been a nearly insurmountable distance to get a first down to an automatic first down more than 30 yards down the field. This gave Seattle a new life they did not deserve. If the call had been made correctly, Packer victory.
- Then comes the final play. There were actually three separate mistakes made on this play. Again, if any one of them were called correctly, the game would have had a different outcome.
- First, an obvious offensive pass interference penalty was overlooked by the officials. The receiver blatantly pushed the defender out of the way. Offensive pass interference — and it was very obvious — would have ended the game with a Packer victory.
- Second, during the play, a Packer defender caught the ball and pulled it into his chest. The receiver then tried to grab the ball and claimed possession. The official on the scene standing about a yard away from the pile of bodies, the man with the best view of what really happened (the guy on the left in the photo), ruled the play was an interception — which it was. Another official comes in and rules a touchdown. Well, which was it? The first ruling on the field was an interception. The official who ruled a touchdown was out of position. He came running up and signaled touchdown. See for yourself in the photo below. The ball is being given a bear hug by the Packer defender. The official signalling touchdown is saying #81 caught the ball. WTF? The only thing he caught was the Packer defender on the way to the ground.
- Third, as someone watching this unbelievable sequence of bad calls happen, I still held out hope that the ruling would be made right on instant replay review. The whole point of instant replay review is to correct bad calls when the camera shows the truth. Well, the photos and live footage clearly show the Packer making an interception, and the idiots ruled that the Seattle receiver caught the ball anyway. Unbelievable!
I can deal with setbacks for my team. I was devastated when the Packers lost in last year’s playoffs, but they lost. They were beaten by the other team. The performance on the field determined the outcome of the game. I watched the rest of the playoffs and the Super Bowl last year, despite my favorite team not being there because I love the game.
The scab referees the NFL is putting on the field are ruining the game. I can’t bear to watch anymore because I don’t have any confidence the outcome of the game will be determined by the players on the field. When the players no longer determine the outcome, the game is not worth watching.
Perhaps I will change my mind later in the year. If the NFL corrects its referee problem, and if I believe the players determine who wins, I may be enticed to watch again. Until then, I will watch something else. Perhaps the other networks will offer reruns of Heidi. Even that would be better than the product the NFL currently puts out.