Roger Goodell's Hubris Evident in NFL's Refusal to Admit Referees' Mistake

Zach KruseSenior Analyst ISeptember 25, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Wide receiver Golden Tate #81 of the Seattle Seahawks makes a catch in the end zone to defeat the Green Bay Packers on a controversial call by the officials at CenturyLink Field on September 24, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was handed a golden opportunity Tuesday morning to make an officiating travesty a little less wrong, but he instead decided to stick out his middle finger and essentially insult the intelligence of millions of fans and analysts across the country who witnessed the closing events of Monday night's game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks. 

In light of the mockery made last night of an official game by the replacement referees, the NFL released a statement Tuesday that skirted the issue, circled around the initial decision and, more or less, spun the decision to uphold Golden Tate's 24-yard touchdown that lifted the Seahawks past the Packers in a light that supports the NFL.

It represents the height of Goodell's hubris as the NFL's commissioner. 

In breaking down the meat and potatoes of the NFL's statement (via piece-by-piece, Goodell's arrogance of the situation becomes very clear. 

The NFL gets into the first major mistake made by the officials three paragraphs in:

While the ball is in the air, Tate can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the ground. This should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended the game. It was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay. 

At least the NFL can admit to this egregious mistake. 

While more contact and physicality is almost always allowed during Hail Mary situations, a clear push-off from Tate on Sam Shields was performed directly in front of the side judge. How this goes uncalled is maybe more of a travesty than the final decision on the catch. 

Shields, at 5'11" and with a vertical jump of 39 inches, would likely have made Tate a non-factor in catching the football had he not been visibly pushed to the ground. 

But the translation of the NFL's remarks on the no-call: The game should have ended and the replacement refs made a huge mistake, but there's nothing we can do.

Sorry, but we're not sorry. 

Moving on:

When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings had possession of the ball. Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the offensive player. The result of the play was a touchdown. 

Time to read between the lines. 

The NFL is somewhat recapping the events here, but at no point does it say the officials on the field were correct in their initial call. There's a definitive reason for that use of words, and it's to cover their behinds. 

Instead of coming out and saying the initial call was incorrect, the NFL skirts the issue and then pussyfoots around it with the right words. 

Typical Goodell and the NFL. Protect the "Shield," right?

Here's their first comment on the replay:

Replay Official Howard Slavin stopped the game for an instant replay review. The aspects of the play that were reviewable included if the ball hit the ground and who had possession of the ball. In the end zone, a ruling of a simultaneous catch is reviewable. That is not the case in the field of play, only in the end zone. 

Some in the media and a majority of fans believed that the simultaneous catch wasn't a reviewable call, which helped contribute to the call being upheld. Not true. That part of the process is and was reviewable. The fact that the replay official (who is not a replacement) still got it wrong makes it even more baffling. 


Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood. The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review. 

Again, the final "support" from the NFL comes from the fact that Howard Slavin did not overturn the call on replay. And again, how Slavin and the NFL came up with that decision is mind-boggling considering the multitude of replays shown. There are only a select few among former and current players and coaches and the media who believe there was not indisputable evidence to overturn the mistake made on the field. 

Of course, as a final pouring of salt into the wound, the NFL closed with this line:

The result of the game is final. 

Yes, the Seahawks will remain 2-1, and the Packers 1-2. 

But that doesn't detract from the fact that the NFL just insulted a vast audience of fans with this "statement." The NFL lies right to your face, and they're banking on you buying it. 

The NFL, a money-driven bully who could care less about the ending of one game, has egg splattered all over its face. You have the video evidence to prove it. Yet they just sent you a letter insisting what you saw was wrong, a fallacy of the eyes. 

If that isn't reckless arrogance, I don't know what is.