Green Bay loses game, NFL loses credibility amid replacement fiasco
GREEN BAY – The shield is tarnished; the brand is diluted.
The National Football League is a defective product so long as it allows unqualified officials to oversee its billion-dollar industry. The league’s “Buyer Beware” attitude toward its fans is beyond thankless.
It is heartless.
Sadly, the saddest chapter in this sorry affair is still to be written unless – and it’s a big unless – the NFL decides to do the right thing and bring back the regular referees. To do anything else is to guarantee that the Seahawks’ 14-12 victory over the Packers on Monday night is merely the latest step down the path of officiating ineptitude.
While Patriots’ fans undoubtedly wish the uprights could be raised, Packers’ fans have no doubt the crossbar has been lowered.
Football’s beauty is its sense of fair play. The better team (almost always) wins because football is the ultimate team game. It is intended to be a pretty simple deal. It’s 11-on-11; it’s 10 yards for a first down; it’s six points for a touchdown.
It isn’t supposed to be 3 yards and a cloud of disgust.
It is supposed to be fun.
There was nothing fun about the Packers’ alleged loss at Seattle, or the tragic comedy of replacement referee errors that occurred along the way.
Packers’ linebacker Erik Walden’s penalty for “roughing the passer” stood as the game’s poorest call, but only briefly, because it was quickly superseded by cornerback Sam Shield’s “pass interference” penalty.
A correct call in either case would have assured a Packers’ victory.
Instead, the Packers got “Strike one!” followed by “Strike two!” before being floored with “Strike three!”
Seahawks’ receiver Golden Tate didn’t catch the football for a game-clinching touchdown at the end. Tate caught the Packers’ M.D. Jennings, who had two hands on the football for a game-winning interception. This wasn’t dual possession. It was game over.
What should have happened is this: The officials involved should meet with the referee, discuss what they saw, and get together on the call. It would have resulted in a touchback, which would have been upheld.
Instead, one of the officials hastily signaled “touchdown” despite having the poorer of the two viewpoints. At that instant, the NFL’s credibility took a blow to the gut, the Packers lost a game they should have won, and more than $150 million changed hands in Las Vegas.
It is time for Green Bay Packers fans to take a stand.
In the name of Lombardi, the Packers’ owners/shareholders should call upon the NFL’s other owners to do the right thing. Last night’s game should be viewed as an opportunity to let the league know that its fans – especially its fans in Green Bay – aren’t going to take it lying down.
Why does Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have a say in the league’s negotiations with the referees, but the Packers’ shareholders do not? If the Cowboys got jobbed the way the Packers did on Monday night – and it still could happen – do you think Jones would go quietly?
The Packers’ fans need to say, “Enough is enough.”
The shield needs to be polished; the brand needs to be strengthened.
It is time for the NFL to fairly and effectively negotiate with the regular referees and dispense with the lockout. The league can chalk it up to the cost of doing business, and then it can tell fans, “We did it for you.”
It’s the NFL’s story. It can spin it however it wants, so long as it spins it with the regular referees moving forward.
Last week’s prediction: Packers 27, Seahawks 24 (Seattle 14-12)
This week’s prediction: Packers 35, Saints 24 (replacement refs nothwithstanding)
Chris Havel is a Packers News expert and national best-selling author. His latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio (www.thefan1075.com). Havel also hosts Event USA’ Player Autograph Parties the evening before home games.