Close readers know I haven't posted responses to your mailbag questions and comments in a long while. The truth is that I accessed your questions and comments this week for the first time in months. More than ever, the mailbag portal has devolved into a cesspool of rants, accusations of perceived bias and venting that don't appear to be seeking actual responses.
You're welcome to continue as such, but for the most part please know we've moved on to interacting via Twitter, SportsNation chats and occasionally Facebook and Instagram. I'll continue to check in on the mailbag periodically, but responses won't be timely.
With that said, I peeked in this week to gauge reaction to a post I figured wouldn't go over well with many people. Our NFC playoff standings*, based on an imaginary reversal of the Green Bay Packers' Week 3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, felt to many of you like sour grapes.
Some of you noted the Seahawks arguably lost Super Bowl XL because of poor officiating. Others wondered why I didn't mention a questionable third-down pass interference call against Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor that set up the Packers' only touchdown of the game. Some asked why I haven't sided with those who argue that Seahawks receiver Golden Tate did in fact gain possession on the controversial touchdown. And a few challenged why the Seahawks were seeded eighth in the revised playoff standings, behind the Dallas Cowboys despite a Week 2 victory over that team.
In short, my feeling was that this was a singular and unique moment compared to all other officiating gaffes in NFL history. It was a game-deciding call on the final play by imposters who were asked to cover for the NFL's miscalculated labor stance.
The Chancellor call was poor, but the Seahawks had time to overcome it. As for Tate, I have written that there are conflicting rules and case studies about simultaneous possession. You can find arguments to support possession for either Tate or Packers safety M.D. Jennings if your mind is truly open to it. (And even the NFL admitted Tate should have been called for offensive pass interference on the play.)
Finally, the Seahawks are seeded eighth in the standings* because in cases of a multi-team tie for a wild-card spot, the head-to-head tiebreaker only applies "if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others," according to the NFL's tiebreaker rules. That is not the case, so conference record breaks the tie.
I will continue to post the NFC playoff standings* to track the impact of the replacement official fiasco. Hopefully, it will have none. But at the moment, three teams' playoff standings are affected.
With that said, I want to leave you with one of the more thoughtful notes I saw in the mailbag. Marc of Portland made a request that I thought was worth posting:
"We all have to demand that every game is played as fairly as possible, and that no team or a fan of that team is ever cheated by bad refs, no matter how they ended up on the field. I think they deserve to be paid what they're worth, just like the players. And just like the players who make mistakes, they deserve fines when they have a negative affect on the game.
"Maybe it's time to start a coalition among the fans to demand fair games. A coalition to record bad calls and rank the officials for ourselves. A coalition to say out with the bad ones and up with the good ones. A coalition to stick up for each other no matter what team you cheer for. And a coalition to demand that the owners never try to bite the hand that feeds them again."
I'm not sure about fines for mistakes, and I think mistakes will always occur until robots take over the job. Otherwise, though, I agree that a goal of fair officiating should transcend team allegiances. Hopefully we can all rally around that.