The NFL is facing their alleged nightmare scenario. Last night the replacement officials finally did something totally egregious on national television in a situation that decided a game. They awarded Golden Tate of the Seahawks a winning TD reception on a Hail Mary pass even though replay clearly showed that the pass was intercepted by the Packers’ M.D. Jennings. So the Packers were hosed out of what should’ve been a hard-won road victory. On a play that should’ve easily been cleared up by replay but for some reason was not.
It wasn’t the only catastrophically huge mess-up by the scab refs. Earlier they flagged Sam Shields for pass interference against Sidney Rice on a play where Shields clearly did not commit interference but Rice clearly did. The whole game was marred by questionable calls. It was just a mess from start to finish and the last play was simply the piece de resistance. The eff-up of eff-ups.
The backlash began immediately all over social media. Twitter blew up like Twitter seldom blows up. The reaction was almost universal: The scab referees are terrible and they have to go. Even Viking fans had to admit the Packers got robbed. Many predicted that the NFL would now have to relent in their battle with the officials and end the lockout.
The NFL is expected to address the controversy some time Tuesday, per Steve Wyche, but I’m not convinced they’re going to just give in and bring back the real officials as people are hoping. Yes there are lots of irate fans out there and the media are all up in arms as well, but the fans are still watching and the money is still rolling in, so what do they care if there’s lots of griping even if it includes big shots like Peter King? Their sport looks like a farce this morning but I’m not sure they’re concerned about it. TV ratings and revenues are what they care about. It’s more likely that they will offer some weasel-worded defense of the replacement refs and continue as before.
This will of course provoke a second poopstorm even bigger than the first. But so what? Nothing that happens out there in the Twitterverse or Blogosphere or on some ESPN bloviation-fest show can really hurt the NFL. It’s all just hot air. The only thing that will get through to Roger Goodell and the owners is a drop in TV ratings. Will this fiasco cause people to turn away? Unlikely. In fact, it’s possible that the trainwreck factor will now draw in even more people.
It’s sad to think of the NFL becoming like pro wrestling but that appears to be where we’re headed. The current caretakers of the game are good at making money but when it comes to protecting the integrity of the game, they stink like a scab ref.