The Green Bay Packers were screwed by the replacement refs in Seattle—a fact known by all—but there's more to this story. The latest news provides more proof that the NFL owes the Packers a win.
The NFL told replacement officials not to call pass interference penalties on Hail Mary passes.
Yes, you read that right.
In a shocking new development on a story that just won't go away, Wayne Elliott—the head official who presided over the "inaccurate reception" in Seattle—told Showtime's Inside the NFL, via CBSSports.com:
(For) the deep officials, it was brought up that you don't really call interference on a Hail Mary…The deep officials were trained that during a Hail Mary, there's a lot of bodies in there and you just let it go.
I don't know about you, but given the shoddy vetting process that provided us with such gems as refs who couldn't even cut it in the Lingerie Football League, I buy this story (h/t Deadspin.com).
The NFL didn't do the teams any favors when it selected these replacement refs, so it's certainly plausible to assume that their training was substandard.
In response to Elliott's claims, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello responded, via the CBSSports.com report:
Officials have long been instructed not to call pass interference on "Hail Mary," jump ball plays (at end of halves or end of game) unless it is blatant as it was in the Seattle-Green Bay game. Offensive pass interference should have been called on that play. It was more than incidental bumping and jostling.
If this was in response to something that happened with the regular refs on the field, I'd say Aiello was spot on, but there's no way I'm buying this statement in response to what happened in Seattle.
The NFL threw the replacement refs under the bus on this one.
Winning games in the NFL is hard enough, and the Packers did enough to win that game. The replacement refs did a lot wrong after the play was over, but I'm convinced they did what they were instructed to do.
Yes, Golden Tate shoved Sam Shields the better part of a country mile, but the refs were instructed to let Hail Mary passes play out. Bottom line.
They saw Tate's shove, but they didn't throw the flag.
Now we know why.
The right thing to do is to give the Packers the win they deserve. I thought so when it happened, and now that I've heard the other side of the story from Elliott, I'm more convinced than ever before.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78