Refs Nail Coffin Shut in Seattle

The NFL didn’t go to bed last night until well into the wee hours. It arose early, red-eyed and spent, to a universal cacophany of hoots, cackles, wails, outrage and threats. No media channel spared the NFL from condemnation – cable, dish, radio, bar, breakfast table, school grounds gatherings, string-connected paper cups…all channeled a collective public outrage and disdain. The real winner last night? The NFL Referree Association; Hochuli probably left a note on Goddell’s voicemail that he’s gone to St. Barts for an extended beach vacation and to give him a call when Goddell’s ready to return the NFL to the mountaintop. Hopefully Hochuli went all Mercury Morris last night and popped champagne like he won a championship game. It is mathematically impossible for his bargaining position to have improved less than stratospherically. And nobody is anticipating the return of the adult refs more than the teams that have been robbed the last two weeks. The Packers’ simply own the most blatant example.

What transpired last night in Seattle is nothing short of disgraceful. Seahawks’ fans know their team lost a football game yet garnered a point in the win column. The Packers went off as a 3-point favorite and before the intercepting touchdown they were up by 5 points; a cover and a tough road win were in their pocket. However 2 referees with elementary school experience decided that they had to have the last say, and Golden Tate was awarded the most outlandish end-of-game final-play touchdown reception in the history of Monday Night Football. A lot of money instantly changed hands. A lot of money. I imagine there were some ever-so-slightly disgruntled folks in the Vegas sports books who politely expressed their reversal of fortunes when the call failed to be reversed.

Roger Goddell has fined and suspended players for conduct unbecoming to the sport or the safety of its players. Yet, hypocritically, the NFL allows both concerns to be broached by the missed, mistaken and plainly wrong calls by the replacement cadre of refs. Last night’s result also showed a couple of other elements in particularly poor light: Golden Tate’s self-actualization skills, and Pete Carroll’s vertical moral-leaping ability.

The players have had enough and they’re fed up with the way the game is being called. There is no longer room to debate the issue. Every call will be scrutinized from here on out. The game, such that it is, will be overshadowed by the play-by-play performance of the refs. The credibility of the game has been kicked over and wide of the uprights. All that remains is the potentially disastrous possibility of a road team benefiting from a game-changing blown call, which is likely to happen. When that Sunday afternoon comes, the refs and the NFL may find themselves with a problematic exit strategy.

The only thing to applaud last night was Mike McCarthy’s class-act at the end of the game.