Lest we forget, Monday night’s Packers-Seahawks game, before its outcome became one of the great farces in NFL history, was a compelling game with plenty of angles to discuss.
For the first 30 minutes, the Seahawks’ vastly underrated “D” suffocated and sieged league MVP Aaron Rodgers and one of the NFL’s most dangerous offenses. Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin and Seattle’s entire intimidating secondary should finally be getting the credit they deserve.
In the final 30 minutes, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy again proved why he’s in rare air among NFL head coaches. His masterful halftime adjustments gave Rodgers the necessary breathing room to get in enough of a rhythm to get his team back in the game. Rodgers, after being dropped an incredible eight times in the first half, courageously found ways to move the football and put his team in position for a huge win.
But after the final eight seconds, those angles didn't matter. Instead of dissecting an incredibly hard-fought battle by both teams, we're forced to write about how greed and power means more to the commissioner and the owners than the once-proud integrity of the game.
The NFL, which, for three weeks, played with house money, hoping the replacement refs wouldn't blatantly change the outcome of the game in the final moments, finally lost.
Even the immediate return of the regular referees, which seems likely given the outcry following this controversial game, won’t give the Packers a win they earned and strip the Seahawks of one they did not. It won’t help fix the mess now on the league’s hands of how to explain the postseason ramifications this shameful “Monday Night Football” outcome will most likely create.
Even Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, the biggest beneficiary of the league’s inexcusable blunder, acknowledged following the game that the referees were on Monday night — and continue to be — in way over their heads.
“It’s time for it to be over,” he said. “It’s time for this to be over. My hat’s off to these officials. They’re doing everything they can to do it as well as they can. They have great pride. They’re working their tails off. It demonstrates how difficult it is. It’s a very, very complex process to handle these games and make these decisions. There’s nothing easy about it, and it takes years and years of experience to pull it off properly and in a timely fashion and keep the flow of the game alive and all that.
“It’s time for it to be over. The league deserves it. Everybody deserves it.”
Carroll is at least partially correct — it’s time for it to be over. But there was never a time for it to start. It never should have come to this: unqualified officials being thrown into a fire that requires years of preparation to put out.
The fans and the players certainly deserve better. But the league and the owners deserve exactly what they have gotten: a tainted season and an alienated fanbase whose voice has once again been dwarfed by the bottom line.