The Seattle Seahawks surprised many NFL pundits and fans when they decided to make Russell Wilson their starting QB ahead of Matt Flynn. Flynn was seen as the most able and ready QB after sitting behind Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and breaking Packer records for TD passes in his game against the Lions last year. We all questioned Pete Carroll’s judgement and now do we look foolish. We had no idea of what this Rookie QB was really capable of. It seems we all pay too much attention to arm strength. We put too much emphasis on accuracy. Decision making, audible calling, defense reading and taking care of the football are all well and good, but when you possess the secret skill that Wilson has; all of these things become trivial. Russel Wilson can throw an interception on a Hail Mary and get you a TD.
Last nights game should really be the straw that breaks the camels back on the NFL replacement ref issue. It was an absolute shambolic, chaotic and disgraceful affair. We all wondered when the poor decisions would start costing teams games and now we have our answer. On the final play of the game, the Seahawks had the ball on a 4th and 10 looking to throw a Hail Mary to win the game as they trailed the Packers 12 – 7. Wilson scrambled from the pocket under intense pressure from the Green Bay defense and heaved the ball 24 yards to the left corner of the end zone looking to find Golden Tate. Tate blatantly shoves Packers Sam Shields to the ground in what is the most obvious case of pass interference the NFL has ever seen. Then, M.D Jennings leaps and comes down with the ball. Tate then tries to wrestle the ball from Jennings on the ground. There were two referees on the scene to call the play and one ruled it an interception while the other called it a TD.
Video replays show two blatant truths here. The first is the pass interference by Tate on Shields and so Seattle should have been penalized. The second is the fact that Jennings had the ball and kept control of it the whole time. For the decision to go the offenses way, they must at least have possession of the ball jointly at the same time. In this case, Jennings had that control and Tate tried to snatch the ball when he was on the ground. Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 5 states that “If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control.” Tate never had control of the ball. Despite a lengthy review by the officials, the ruling on the field of a TD was upheld. To add to the embarrassment and confusion, it took a further 10 minutes for both teams to be padded up and brought back out to contest the 1 point PAT.
Image credit to bleacherreport.com
The replacement ref issues are ruining the integrity of the game. This week, we saw so many questionable decisions; no-one was talking about the big plays. One referee actually turned to LeSean McCoy this week and told him he needed him to play well in the game because he had him on his fantasy football team. Another referee was removed from his duties to officiate the Saints game after pictures on his Facebook page were discovered of him wearing head to toe Saints gear and professing his love for all things Saints. Bill Belicheck even man handled one of the refs in frustration when disputing a call made during the Patriots one point defeat to the Ravens on Sunday.
Shame on you Roger Goodell. The issue over money is costing a lot more than dollars to the game of football. The referees are looking for higher remuneration in line with what other sports referees receive. They earn between $25,000 – $75,000 where other sports referees can earn anything up to $140,000. I understand that the regular season is only 16 games but we have seen this season that these competent referees are worth their weight in gold. The price being paid by the NFL and damage being done is costing much more than the extra money the referees are seeking. It seems Goodell is more interested in flexing his power and being stubborn than doing what is best for the game. There is no excuse after last nights game and further refusal to come to a settlement with the referees is disrespectful to the fans, players, sponsors and owners.
So, will we see the stat ‘Touchception’ in this years NFL Stat and Record book? Let us hope that Russell Wilson remains the leagues leader in that area for decades to come.