We've all seen the play enough times by mid-afternoon Tuesday to be through the stomach retching and on to analysis. You can slow it down as much as you want, but if you can't see what a travesty the final play of the Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks tilt was on Monday Night Football then you simply don't know much about football or lead your life trying desperately to find any way to antagonize.
Russell Wilson's "Hail Mary" toss into the Seattle night resulted in the following:
- The most comically pathetic non-call of a blatant offensive pass interference in the history of NFL football.
- The larceny of credit that can never be paid to Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings for hauling in that pass out of position. The days of 'knock it down" are dwindling. See the last play of regulation in the Detroit Lions-Tennessee Titans game Sunday. Look back on the Jaguars stunning last second win in a 2011 game. If you can catch it, catch it. And there is no doubt that he caught it.
- An instant classic of officiating buffoonery caught on camera with the picture of one official waving his arms to signal a dead ball and a touchback next to another official signaling touchdown. The creme de la creme of this vaudevillian act? They both looked at each other but said nothing before signaling different calls.
- An absolute Oscar-worthy performance by Pete Carroll. This is the same weasel that tucked tail and bolted from USC when he knew the check was coming due on all the indiscretions at that university he "never knew anything about." If that call had gone the other way, Carroll's animation upon learning the victory was confirmed would have looked like stone silence.
- The near implosion of Twitter.
- The continuing decimation of the reputation of commissioner Roger Goodell after orchestrating an end to the lockout and salvaging that reputation just a year ago.
- Close to a billion dollars changing hands one way or another in the sports betting world, meaning thousands of people were throwing things at their televisions and thousands more were saying they would never bet again because they know how lucky they just got.
- Thousands of fantasy football nerds doing a Pete Carroll celebration dance or petitioning their league to let their back up defense's numbers count due to the impropriety that just made their team 0-3.
- Skip Bayless actually agreeing with the masses.
- Some of the greatest single day headlines ever in sports pages all across the country.
Imagine if the scenario was reversed and that was an Aaron Rodgers dart tearing through the night sky on a wing and a prayer. Imagine a Seattle DB being shoved from the fray before another one snatched the ball from the air and brought it to the ground. Seattle is a docile city from all I've learned. I've never had the pleasure of visiting, but there are five things I know to be true -- grunge was a fun musical error with really bad clothing that I signed up for eagerly, coffee flavors have gone bananas (in some cases literally) and it started there, that space needle thing is pretty cool looking, it rains a lot, and QWest, excuse me CenturyLink Field was designed wonderfully to make the good people of Seattle sound like the Barbarian hoard.
I would venture to guess that even in Seattle, there may have been some problems in the stands had that scenario been reversed.
I'm a Philadelphia Eagles fan. I'll use our passionate fans as a whipping post here because although it is but rotten apples in a very large barrel, it's only fair to denigrate yourself first in this instance. If that were a Seahawks-Eagles game at Lincoln Financial Field, with Seattle winning via the same incompetence, I'm really not sure if the replacement referees (who are simply doing their best but are in over their heads) would have gotten out of there unscathed. Lord, what if it was the Dallas Cowboys? The stadium may have been razed.
How do you think Raider nation would have reacted if that played itself out against, say, the Denver Broncos? Do you think the church-going folks out there would have taken that lying down? How bout Giants or Jets fans? Bears fans? I'm sure everyone would have left with a shrug and an, "ahhh, man, we were so close."
The fact is that not only is the league destroying its own product by stubbornly shunning compromise or paying the pittance it would take to give in to the demands of the professional referees, but sooner or later, the consequences are going to be more dire. Sooner or later, players are going to be injured because of the officiating. Games are already being lost which could result in the sacrificing of home playoff games that would cost teams millions of dollars.
The NFL got lucky last night, even while its reputation continues to be Vick-smacked all over the country. It got lucky last night because incompetence led to jubilation for the 70,000-some fans in attendance.
Just imagine the scene if it had caused anger.
Pete Lieber is a freelance writer and a Philadelphia sports enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter at @Lieber14.
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