All I Can Do is Laugh- At the NFL

This article was originally published on Sep 26

For those who don’t know and haven’t been around a TV or the internet in the past 24 hours, the Seattle Seahawks “defeated” the Green Bay Packers with a highly controversial Hail Mary pass as time expired. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson lobbed up a high arching pass to the end zone in desperation, as the Seahawks were attempting a 4th quarter comeback down 12-7. As the end zone became flooded with players preparing for the jump ball, Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate blatantly pushed off cornerback Sam Shields just as the ball dropped into the throng of outstretched arms. When they came down, Golden Tate had a hand on the ball, which was cradled in Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings’ arms.

The refs ruled it a simultaneous possession and gave the Seahawks the touchdown, game, and integrity of the game in one fell swoop. I’m not going to get into what is reviewable and what isn’t, as it’s irrelevant. The call was upheld and the Packers had to begrudgingly trot out 11 guys to stand there while the Seahawks kicked the extra point. Twitter immediately exploded with enraged viewers and I can only assume Roger Goodell became the most wanted man since that guy from The Dark Knight who tried to give up Batman’s identity on TV.

What happened on Monday Night Football was exactly what we were all waiting for but hoping would never happen. It was the culmination of week after tiring week of nonsensical, inept officiating that frankly has no place in the NFL. Say what you will about the NFL, but it has always been a game where getting the call right was always top priority. That’s why they have an infinite amount of high- resolution, high speed cameras documenting every second of every game every week, and why they can thumb their noses at the archaic MLB, and why they give coaches the ability to challenge – to get the call right. But even when officiating integrity is woven into the very fabric of the game and every accommodation is made to make sure bad calls never happen, they still do. Blocks in the back go unseen, cheap shots go unpunished, and balls are spotted with a small but present margin of error. I get it, it happens sometimes. But what happened last night at the end of what, up to that point, had been a tough, physical game between two surprisingly efficient defenses crossed the line from human error to undeniably absurd incompetence.

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All I can say is I’m glad this was on primetime. Monday Night Football is the NFL’s biggest regular season stage, and if there were ever a place where an abysmal call would get attention it deserves, MNF is it, especially since said abysmal call went against one of the NFL’s biggest, most historic franchises. I’m also glad that Aaron Rodgers broke his generally soft-spoken demeanor to take a shot at the NFL and these jokers they throw in striped shirts and send out onto the field. Now Goodell is seeing all of his league’s big-time superstars coming after him, as well asroyalty from other sports (i.e. Lebron’s post-game tweet: “I simply just LOVE the NFL to much to see these mistakes. I’m sick like I just played for the Packers.”). If you ignore the humorous typo, Lebron really has a point there. Stuff like this is hurting the game. Referees should never directly decide the outcome of a game. No one is talking about how the Seahawks D-line unapologetically manhandled the Packers O-line – especially right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who might as well have just stayed on the sideline while waving a blue and green foam finger the whole game.

No one is talking Aaron Rodgers overcoming his initial struggles to at bring his team to an ugly victory (yes, I consider it a victory anyway). No one is talking about the game at all! All eyes are on the referees, which is the most telling part of this whole debacle. Still, even though the Packers should really be 2-1, and as much as it kills me as an NFL fan, last night may have been a necessary step in getting the real referees back. All the outrage – all the one-sided debate – it will not be for naught. All of it is just the beginning of the inevitable end of the lockout, because it’s been too long since we have seen Ed Hochuli’s outrageous guns in his skin-tight zebra shirt. I’ll end this with a very apt Greg Jennings tweet that summarizes what pretty much every NFL fan feels: “C’MON MAN! Can’t even be upset anymore. All I can do is laugh. Laugh at the #NFL for allowing America’s game to come this. WOW!” That is all.

Photo by Aasen Ryan Family

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