Aaron Rodgers needed just three words totaling 10 letters to express his feelings, which matched the discord felt around the nation Monday night when officiating decided the winner of the game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.

“It was awful,” Rodgers stated.

Awful. Atrocious. Debacle. Travesty.

Use whatever term you want but the NFL reached an all-time low – at least in my lifetime – with what occurred at the end of Seattle’s 14-12 victory in the nationally televised contest.

It was beyond embarrassing that the replacement officials (you can blame the fact they are even being used on arrogant NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and control-freak owners) determined that Seattle receiver Golden Tate – who blatantly pushed off, by the way – caught a game-winning touchdown on the final play of the contest when it was clear the ball was intercepted by Packers safety M.D. Jennings.

One official called it a touchdown, another appeared to signal a touchback and interception. Even more maddening was the play was reviewed upstairs and upheld by officials supervisor Phil Luckett (yep, the guy infamous for messing up the overtime coin flip of a Thanksgiving Day game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions in 1998).

The NFL is involved in a dispute with the officials and has been carrying on as if the integrity of the game isn’t at stake. It now stands curb-high after three weeks full of problematic officiating.

I attended the game in which Jerry Markbreit allowed the “Holy Roller” play to stand – Ken Stabler fumbling the ball forward to avoid a game-ending sack, Pete Banaszak pushing it further upfield and Dave Casper falling on it for a touchdown to give the Oakland Raiders a victory over the San Diego Chargers in 1978.

I covered the game in Denver in 2008 when Ed Hochuli botched the call kept the Chargers from ending the game with a fumble recovery. Hochuli originally ruled the play an incomplete pass and the call was correctly reversed to a fumble but Hochuli said an inadvertent whistle prevented the ball from being awarded to San Diego. Denver then went on to scored the winning points.

But what we saw Monday night might be the topper because the whole thing could have been avoided if the NFL had solved its impasse with the officials prior to the season. You know, like they did with the players last season when heavy financial losses were staring them in the face if that lockout wasn’t solved.

The NFL feels it can do whatever it pleases and that the fans will always put up with it – that’s why you pay obscene prices to watch a game, park your car and drink beverages. But in the social-media age, it is clear fans aren’t interested in putting up with such a travesty.

These replacements officials are Division III and high school officials for a reason. That’s because they are ill-equipped to handle officiating football at its highest level.

All I know is the officials now have overwhelming leverage in their dispute with the NFL. The league needs to solve this immediately and if I were the leader of the officials, I would make them sweat this out.

You see, there’s another nationally televised game on Thursday and after Monday’s debacle, there is only one storyline worth tracking and it certainly doesn’t involve the Cleveland Browns. And there also was complete chaos in the nationally televised Sunday night game between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens so Monday’s refereeing ineptitude occurred after frustration from players, coaches and fans had already reached a boiling point.

ESPN did a great job covering the Monday night travesty. Former NFL coach Jon Gruden spoke about the bad taste left in his mouth by the ending and former NFL quarterbacks Steve Young and Trent Dilfer blistered the league.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy has this to say during his postgame press conference: “I haven’t seen anything like that in all my years in football.”

Neither have I. Neither has anyone else.

And hopefully we don’t see it again next weekend.

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Comments
  1. Ed says:

    Phil Luckett was also the guy who screwed the Seahawks out of a playoff berth in 1998 by deciding that New York Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde’s helmet crossing the plane of the end zone was an acceptable alternative to the ball. The phantom touchdown ruling for the Jets resulted in a 32-31 Jets win over the Seahawks that year. The Seattle loss kept Seattle out of the playoffs, led to the firing of then-head coach Dennis Erickson, and led to the re-instatement of instant replay.

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