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Questions, answers on referee's admission

8/7/2010

Referee Bill Leavy's surprise confession over officiating errors in the Seattle Seahawks' Super Bowl defeat four years ago raised questions. Let's search for some answers.

  • What calls did Leavy admit missing? Leavy said he "kicked two calls in the fourth quarter" of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 21-10 victory. There were only two penalties in the quarter. One was a holding call against Seahawks tackle Sean Locklear, wiping out a gain to the 1-yard line. The other was a low block called against Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. The latter call was clearly made in error. Current and former associates of Leavy declined to speak for attribution, but they said the call against Hasselbeck always bothered Leavy. However, that call didn't affect the game significantly because it came after Hasselbeck threw an interception and Pittsburgh was in command. Leavy's associates said they thought the call against Locklear was correct and they couldn't understand why Leavy would make such an admission.

  • Why was Leavy in Seattle? Leavy never worked another Seahawks game while Mike Holmgren was the team's head coach. The league assigned him to the Seahawks' Week 2 game at San Francisco last season, without incident. Leavy was familiar with coaches on the Seahawks' new staff, however. He had worked their training camp practices elsewhere previously. That could have made the connection more natural at this time. The league did assign him to Seattle.

  • Did the league know in advance Leavy was going to make these statements? No. League spokesman Greg Aiello had this to say via email when contacted Saturday: "Bill's personal comments speak for themselves and we see no reason to add to them."

  • What was the Seahawks' reaction to Leavy's admission? Few players from the 2005 team remain on the roster, but Hasselbeck was gracious when reporters asked him about the admission Saturday. "I think all the officials that we have in the NFL are stand-up guys and Bill Leavy is no different," Hasselbeck said, adding that he spoke with Leavy in Week 2 last season. "It’s not a perfect science and there’s a lot of human involvement there and I’ve played some games that I remember because I feel like I did a good job and then I feel some other games where I have some regrets. That goes for any sport, any player, I’m sure coaching is no different, in that same way I’m sure officiating is the same thing."

  • Why confess at all? This admission seemed to serve Leavy's conscience more than anything. The league certainly doesn't want to revive a 4-year-old discussion on officiating errors. Even the Seahawks had moved on. Leavy's associates described him as very conscientious and as an official with a strong performance record overall, but they said they knew the Super Bowl bothered him.

Officials take all sorts of abuse from fans and criticism from all angles, but rarely do they open up the way Leavy has done in this case. The only complaint here is that he didn't do so earlier, and he wasn't more specific.