Super Bowl XL: Bill Leavy Opens Old Wounds and Revisionary History

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Super Bowl XL: Bill Leavy Opens Old Wounds and Revisionary History
A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

I know that August is a slow sports month, what with baseball two months away from the postseason and football in training camp mode. But who could have predicted that one of the biggest sports stories in August 2010 would be about a game played in February 2006?

Last week, NFL referee Bill Leavy made his first appearance in Seattle since Super Bowl XL. In a media session, Leavy, unexpectedly and unprompted, proceeded to bare his soul, saying, “I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game.” He added that he will “go to my grave wishing I’d been better.”

This mea culpa may have helped to ease Leavy's burden, but it has reopened deep wounds among Seahawks fans and revisionary history among Steelers fans.

As a fan of the Seahawks since they came into the league in 1976, I have very strong feelings about Super Bowl XL. I'm not going to go through the game and pick out the calls I feel were blown. At no time since the game was played has my opinion about the officiating changed; in my opinion, the Seahawks were robbed.

But, as the saying goes, time heals all wounds. It has been quite a while since I bored my wife or friends with a rant about how the officiating had cost the Seahawks a Super Bowl. My brother, a Steelers fan, and I haven't even had a good argument about the game in a couple of years. Now, Leavy drops this bomb and I'm back to being pissed off again.

In reading the many articles written about this on Bleacher Report since Friday, you can see how this has stirred up bad feelings among Seahawks fans. But you can also see an interesting revisionary history among Steelers fans about that game.

If someone was reading about Leavy's admission last week, without knowing anything about what happened in the game, one might come away thinking this is much-to-do-about-nothing. In the four years since the game was played, Steelers fans have painted this as a case of isolated, Northwestern, sour grapes; that everyone knows that the best team won and Seattle fans (and Seattle fans only) are a bunch of crybabies.

But let me remind everyone of the overwhelming feelings about this game from fans all across America. In a SportsNation poll on ESPN.com on February 7, 2006, over 100,000 fans voiced their opinion on the officiating. Here are some of the results:

  • 61.7% thought that officiating mistakes affected the outcome of the game.
  • 57.5% thought officials missing calls played the biggest role in determining the outcome of the game (14.2% answered "Steelers making plays").
  • 75.4% gave Bill Leavy's crew a grade of D or worse.

 

This poll, just like Leavy's admission, does nothing to change the outcome of the game. But it should point out that the complaints of Seahawks fans about the officiating of Super Bowl XL are not without merit. 

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