While it will provide little solace to the 1-2 Green Bay Packers or their picketing fans, but had locked-out NFL referee Walt Anderson been working Monday night's game between the Packers and Seattle Seahawks, the Packers would have won.
Anderson, a retired dentist who is currently the coordinator of Football Officials for the Big 12 Conference, made the disclosure during an appearance on WHB in Kansas City.
"I guess I might end up being in a little bit of trouble with the league myself today because I would've reversed it to an interception," Anderson said via SportsRadioInterviews.com. "I just feel like that the defensive player established control, certainly a greater degree of control than the receiver, both in the air and going to the ground. Just the fact that a receiver ends up having a hand on the ball does not necessarily constitute control. I felt like, watching it live, it was an interception. And watching all the replays, I would've come to the same conclusion had I been making the decision."
Anderson has been an NFL official since 1996, grading highly enough to work several playoff games, including Super Bowl XXXV, before he was promoted to referee in 2003. Anderson was selected to be the referee in Super Bowl XLV, in which the Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25.
As Anderson notes, he would not have had the authority to change the ruling on the field because he wouldn't have seen it. As the referee, his responsibility would have been to focus on the quarterback, in this case Russell Wilson, who took a hit from Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. The broadcast angle didn't show it, but after Wilson releases the football, Matthews appeared to launch himself, leading with the crown of his helmet, into the head and neck area of Wilson.
Once under the hood for the replay, though, Anderson would have changed the call to an interception.
"I would've not had the ability to reverse it on the field because I wouldn't have been seeing it," Anderson said. "If I recall right, the quarterback got hit pretty hard, and legally, so I'm back there with him. I'm going to go to the ground and I'm probably just going to be made aware of the play after it's all kind of being sorted out down there in the end zone. But once it gets in the replay, in the NFL, it'd be the referee that makes the final decision."
Anderson didn't have much sympathy for the amount of criticism being heaped upon the replacement officials.
"On the one hand, they've really got a tough road to hoe. They've been put in an environment where they're just not adequately prepared for it, so they're trying to make the best they can out of a difficult situation," said Anderson. "The other side of that is nobody held a gun to their head and said 'Hey, you got to be an official in the NFL'. So it was their choice. If you're going to be prepared to work in that pressure-cooker environment, you're going to have to expect to take some of the heat that goes with it."
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