Lifestyle & Belief

Packers-Seahawks call causes backlash over NFL's replacement refs


Wide receiver Golden Tate (81) of the Seattle Seahawks battles MD Jennings of the Green Bay Packers for the ball on September 24, 2012 in Seattle during Monday Night Football.


Otto Greule Jr.

The Packers' loss in Seattle on Monday night has highlighted — in painful, full-color detail with super slow-motion replay — the NFL's referee lockout issues, as fans and commentators alike railed against a controversial call to end the game. 

The refs ruled that a pass to Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate was a touchdown, when it looked suspiciously like an interception by Green Bay's M.D. Jennings, the Washington Post's "Last Call" blog reported.

The iconic shot from the game shows the two refs making distinctly different calls with their arms — one appearing to rule an interception, the other a touchdown — and illustrates the growing debate over the decision, which handed the Seahawks a 14-12 victory. 

Inevitably, fingers have pointed in the direction of the NFL's labor dispute with its permanent referees. But many argue that the botched call won't bring good tidings for the labor unions. 

"The NFL has essentially identified its product as being inelastic," Eben Jose, a sports business analyst at IBISWorld, told the Atlantic. "They have no reason to really push a deal with the refs because TV ratings are better than ever." 

Not to mention the uproar in the world of sports' commentary. 

"Who knows what was going through Roger Goodell’s head on Monday night as he fiddled while the integrity of his league burned to the ground," wrote Sports Illustrated in a fiery op-ed about the game.

"There can be no more denying the undeniable: The presence of replacement officials has significantly impacted the NFL’s product on the field." 

After everyone slept on the decision, the NFL announced today that a mistake was made, The Associated Press reported.

In a statement, the league said referees missed a pass-interference penalty against Tate which would have voided the TD catch.

That won't change the result, the league said, refusing to change the outcome.

The refs were correct in ruling touchdown, the NFL said, because both players had possession and ties go to the offense.

The penalty isn't reviewable by instant replay, and there was no definitive evidence to overturn the call on the field when it comes to possession, the league said, the AP reported.

When the win went from Green Bay to Seattle, $500 million worth of betting money changed hands, USA Today said.

Marc Lawrence of told the newspaper's website that on an average Monday Night Football game, fans wager about $250 million.

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The oddmaker suggested this just might get NFL commissioner Roger Goddell to meet the referees' demands.

"If a half-billion dollars can't get Roger Goodell's attention, what will?" Lawrence told USA Today.

Though both teams have remained politically correct in their reactions, the outcry from players and sports commentators has been audible. 

"Very hard to swallow," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy after the game, ever-weary of the NFL's fines for coaches who criticize referees, the Christian Science Monitor reported. "I have never seen anything like that in my time in football."

Several Packers players, including T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton, took to Twitter to express their frustrations, with expletive-laden tweets cursing out the referees and NFL. 

Hall-of-famer Troy Aiken tweeted: 

Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans' Saints, said: 

NFL commentator Adam Schefter:

What do you think of the NFL's ref lockout? Let us know in the comments.

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