It finally happened. The replacement officials did the unthinkable. They solely decided the result of a professional football game, and in all of my 22 years, I've never seen more backlash.
Granted, the creation of social media is a big reason for this, but comments I cannot repeat from NFL players were tweeted—you don't see that every day.
We know what led to this backlash by now. Russell Wilson's Hail Mary attempt fell into the arms of Packers' defensive back MD Jennings. As Jennings fell to the ground, so did Seahawks' wide receiver Golden Tate, who managed to sneak his left hand onto the ball once Jennings had already pinned it to his chest.
Once both players had landed, one referee signaled "touchdown" while the other referee signaled "touchback." The play was reviewed, and despite conclusive evidence that it was Jennings who intercepted the prayer thrown up by Seattle's rookie quarterback, the touchdown call won out, and the Packers were all of a sudden 1-2, furious beyond belief.
I began writing this nearly two hours after the conclusion of one of the most infamous NFL games of all time, not because as a Packer fan I needed time to calm down, but because I couldn't stop laughing. Really, this is a sick and twisted joke the NFL is playing on us right now, but it's funny what the NFL has allowed its product to become.
Yes, Green Bay was lucky to even be in this position late in the game with how poorly it played in the first half—Aaron Rodgers was sacked a career-high eight times—and yes, there were bad calls that went both ways. But the Packers fought back admirably, came out in the second half with a more balanced attack, and took the lead 12-7 with 8:44 remaining in the game.
From there, all hell broke loose.
Early in the Seahawks' ensuing possession, deep in their own territory, Wilson rolled right and threw the ball, only for it to be intercepted by Packers safety Jerron McMillian.
But hold the phone. Erik Walden was called for roughing the passer, and Seattle's drive was still alive. Let's just say Walden was already in the process of tackling Wilson when the ball was being thrown.
A few plays later, on a 1st-and-25 after back-to-back holding penalties on the Seahawks, Wilson dropped back and looked for Sidney Rice down the left sideline. Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields gained perfect inside position on Rice, and as the ball arrived, Rice reached over Shields while placing his hand on Shields' shoulder at an attempt to swat the ball away—not even catch it.
A defensive pass interference call later, it was 1st-and-10 Seattle at the Green Bay 25-yard line.
From there, we all saw what happened. The Seahawks are 2-1, the Packers are 1-2, and an entire nation—minus Seahawk fans and players—is in turmoil.
Now it's not as if a nuclear bomb was dropped on U.S. soil or anything of that nature—it's football. Life goes on. But when the country's most popular sport is toyed with in such a way that it was on Monday night, people are going to get upset—very upset.
While Green Bay players and their head coach, Mike McCarthy, took the high road—for the most part—when speaking to the media after the game, the same cannot be said about players who took to social media.
As a Packer fan, it's slightly disappointing to see such vulgarity from players who belong to the classiest organization in football, but can you really blame them?
I can't, and the possibility that Packers offensive linemen Josh Sitton and TJ Lang could be suspended and will be fined for their comments doesn't really bother me one bit.
Not to mention Jermichael Finley's wallet will be a little lighter along with Clay Matthews', who posted the commissioner's office phone number on his Facebook page (allegedly). Whoops.
What infuriates me further were some of the comments uttered by Seattle players following the game.
When Golden Tate was asked if he pushed off on the final play, he replied, "I don't know what you're talking about."
Both Russell Wilson and Seahawk coach Pete Carroll used the phrase, "tie goes to the runner." This is true, but what happened in the end zone with :00 remaining on the clock was not a "tie." Not in the slightest.
This, coming from players on a Pete Carroll-led team, does not come as a surprise. For Seattle and its loyal fans to feel good on any level about this "victory" is embarrassing and flat-out wrong. Sure, accept the victory, because it's not going to be taken away from you, but don't act like you didn't see what the rest of world just saw.
As ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer said, it's an insult to my intelligence.
This is bigger than the Packers and the Seahawks. This is the corruption and dwindling integrity of the NFL.
What happens next?
We can only hope this was the final straw in this disgusting and embarrassing experiment we call replacement referees. You can't help but feel bad for them, but if these officials remain employed by Roger Goodell and the National Football League for Week 4 of the NFL season, there will be hell to pay, and viewers to be lost.
Until then, I'll find something else to entertain me—I'm sure plenty of other people will, too.
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