Before we go any further, let's get one thing straight—I absolutely am opposed to the ruling that awarded Golden Tate a touchdown catch at the end of the Monday Night Football contest between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.
The replacement referees botched the call, plain and simple. It should have been ruled an interception.
But Tate should never admit it. Even if Packers' guard Josh Sitton really wants him too.
@showtimetate admit you didn't catch the ball you coward— josh sitton (@jsitton71) September 25, 2012
I know, I know. I've considered all of the "have good sportsmanship" or "don't be a liar, and admit you didn't make the play" arguments. But there are far more reasons for Tate to stay mum on the whole situation rather than come clean.
For one, he's a competitor. Openly admitting that you didn't make a play or your team was handed a win stings the pride, especially when having to do it publicly in regard to a nationally broadcasted game.
But that's only a minor consideration. Talk all you want about sportsmanship, but what about gamesmanship?
How often do you hear players complaining when a bad call goes their way? How often do players try to fool referees into thinking they were fouled? Have you ever heard a player say, "Yeah, the referees gave us that game?"
Of course not. In every sport, trying to deceive the officials is a part of the game. Sometimes we lament the practice—nobody likes a player who takes dives in soccer or one who flops in basketball—but other times we consider it a mark of a player's intelligence.
Wide receivers who deftly push off defenders without being detected or defensive backs who tug and grab subtly to slow an opposing receiver are considered crafty. Catchers in baseball frame pitches by moving their gloves back across the strike zone in an effort to fool umpires into calling strikes.
And basketball players who go out of their way to draw contact during a shot are pulling off "a veteran move."
Generally, how we determine the quality of an official is whether they fall for these ruses or not. Suffice to say, the quality of the replacement officials in the NFL today is equivalent to Yoko Ono performing a cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody."
Now, I'm not saying that Tate should publicly gloat about his non-catch or puff up his chest about making a play that we all know he didn't in actuality make. Like the rest of his teammates, they should accept the win with grace and hushed lips.
And now that the league has officially—and comically, if you ask me—supported the decisions by the referees on that fateful play, it would look pretty bad if Tate suddenly came out and said, "You know what, let's keep it real here, folks—I didn't make the play."
He would basically be saying, "Yeah, the call was a joke and so was the league that supported and facilitated it in the first place by allowing these games to be played with replacement officials."
That's the subtext of any denial Tate could make. That's how his comments would be perceived. And it would probably make him Roger Goodell's least favorite player, just edging out James Harrison.
So no, Tate shouldn't deny the catch, even if we all know it wasn't a catch. As a competitor, he shouldn't apologize for pulling a fast one on the officials, nor should he blatantly undermine the league who gave his team a win.
It's the NFL and the replacement officials that should apologize and admit the truth of the situation, not Tate. As they say, don't hate the player, hate the game.
With the replacement officials still around, it's becoming a whole lot easier to do.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets wouldn't allow fake Golden Tate touchdowns to stand.