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ON SPORTS: After further review, time for the NFL to replace its arrogance

Sept. 26, 2012 at 4:26 a.m.
Updated Sept. 27, 2012 at 4:27 a.m.

Green Bay Packers cornerbacks Tramon Williams (38) and Charles Woodson (21) and safety M.D. Jennings (43) fight for possession of a jump ball with Seattle Seahawks wide receivers Charley Martin (14) and Golden Tate, right, during Monday's game. The controversial call on the play was a touchdown, despite it clearly being an interception by the Packers.

The NFL's response to the game-ending ruling by the replacement officials in Monday night's Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks game reminded me of an old joke.

A woman comes home and finds her husband in a comprising position with another woman. The husband says to his wife, "Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?"

As for Monday night's game, I know what I saw and my eyes weren't lying.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a desperation pass into the end zone on the final play of the game and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings emerged with control of the ball. The Packers should have left the field with a 12-7 win.

Instead, the call on the field was a touchdown catch by Seahawks receiver Golden Tate and the ruling was upheld after being reviewed.

The Seahawks came away with a 14-12 victory after the teams were forced to return to the field for the extra point.

Let me state emphatically I could ncare less what the final score was or who won. I wagered no money and didn't participate in any pool.

I have no love for the Packers. In fact, I'm still bitter about the Ice Bowl.

I could go the rest of my life without seeing Pete Carroll's smirk, but it doesn't bother me that the Seahawks won the game.

What irked me was the ineptitude of the replacement officials, and the NFL's lame explanation for it.

Apparently, I am not alone.

Seconds after the call was made Twitter, lit up like the Fourth of July. And the outrage toward the NFL was clear and concise.

The tweets took on all forms, and while some were not suitable for print, my favorite was "Russell Wilson became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw a game-winning interception."

The league tried to get itself off the hook by saying offensive pass interference should have been called on Tate, who clearly pushed off on the play.

But it went on to say the officials were correct not to overturn the call on the field.

The arrogance of the NFL's position really shouldn't come as a surprise.

The NFL owners know how bad the replacement officials have been, but until Monday night they stood behind them because it was difficult to say the replacement officials had determined the outcome of a game.

The league and the regular officials were involved in a labor dispute, which led to the lockout. Reports on Wednesday night indicated the sides had worked out an agreement.

The quality of the NFL's product suffered, but as long as there were rear ends in the seats and people were watching at home, the league's financial bottom line didn't change.

The regular officials are not immune from mistakes. Referee Ed Hochuli cost the San Diego Chargers a game in 2009 when he ruled Denver quarterback Jay Cutler had thrown and incomplete pass and replays showed he had fumbled.

The whistle had blown so the play stood and one play later, the Broncos scored and converted a two-point conversion to win the game.

I'm old enough to remember Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception," and I understand disputed calls will always be a part of the game.

But there is no excuse for putting the game in the hands of replacement officials, who don't know the rules and are indecisive and inconsistent in making their calls.

The replacement officials' lack of control put player safety in jeopardy.

Instead of covering its backside, the NFL should have quickly settled the dispute and taken steps to improve the quality of the game.

One suggestion is for the NFL to follow the lead of the NHL and have a central location to review replays.

I don't know if the crowd in Seattle influenced the replacement officials' call on the final play, but the debacle might have been avoided.

The regular officials should be back on the field for Sunday's games.

Let's hope so. In the meantime, the NFL could do something it seems incapable of doing and apologize to its fans.

Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or mforman@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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