NFL got what it deserved, but does it care?
September, 25, 2012
By Kevin Seifert | ESPN.com
Can we now, in unison and without debate, agree that the NFL's plan to replace its locked out officials has failed spectacularly and embarrassingly, undermining the credibility of the league and finally -- after two months of nervous anticipation -- directly impacting the outcome of a game?
That's the only possible reaction after watching the final play of the Seattle Seahawks' 14-12 victory Monday night over the Green Bay Packers. I guess you can debate all the calls and potential mistakes that happened earlier in the game, from wildly inconsistent pass interference judgments to a failure to remove a "K" ball from the field on the Packers' failed two-point conversion in the fourth quarter. But there is no question that Monday night's crew of replacement officials erred repeatedly on the play in question and then lost control of the teams in one of the most chaotic scenes in recent NFL history.
The NFL's attempt to patch together a competent group of officials was destined to fail the moment that Division I college officials either declined or were prevented from joining the effort. Anyone with a cursory knowledge of the NFL's deep and nuanced rule book, not to mention the speed of the professional game, knew that recruiting low-level college officials, Arena League castoffs and Lingerie League part-timers was destined to fail at the highest level of the game.
This is not to say the league is solely at fault for the labor impasse with its regular officials. It takes two to tango in any stalemate, and both sides deserve some blame for the failure to sign a new working agreement.
But the NFL's stance was built in part on the flawed belief it could cover well enough in the time being. It could not, of course, and its willingness to allow the arrangement to continue revealed an economic hubris reserved only for the biggest of American corporations. Ticket sales have remained steady and television ratings have continued to set records, providing no big-picture incentive for the league to cave to its regular officials' demand.
Will anything change after Monday night? Based on the way Twitter lit up in the moments after Seahawks receiver Golden Tate was awarded a 24-yard touchdown reception, I'm not sure. If you think that any publicity is good publicity, the NFL scored a cynical public relations coup Monday night. More people are discussing the NFL, and drawn to it, than ever.
The entire nation saw one of the league's premier franchises lose a game in a way that should not have occurred. Tate committed a blatant offensive pass-interference penalty in clearing cornerback Sam Shields out of his area, and Packers safety M.D. Jennings appeared to have possession of the ball for what would have been called an interception.
In a photograph that will live in infamy, one official ruled the play a touchdown and the other a touchback.
Neither looked like he wanted to make the call.
The NFL got what it deserved Monday night, and unfortunately the Packers were the victim.
Final Cleveland 10 Baltimore 20 Final Dallas 44 Washington 17 Final Indianapolis 27 Tennessee 10 Final Jacksonville 17 Houston 23 Final San Diego 7 Kansas City 19 Final New York 37 Miami 24 Final Chicago 9 Minnesota 13 Final Buffalo 17 New England 9 Final Philadelphia 34 New York 26 Final New Orleans 23 Tampa Bay 20 Final Carolina 34 Atlanta 3 Final Detroit 20 Green Bay 30 Final Oakland 14 Denver 47 Final Arizona 17 San Francisco 20 Final St. Louis 6 Seattle 20 Final Cincinnati 17 Pittsburgh 27