September 26, 2012
If you’re a fan of the National Football League – and, hell, even if you’re not – you’ve probably seen at least one time over the last two days what might simply from this point forward in the history of professional football be referred to as The Call.
You know the one I’m talking about – the one on the final snap of Monday night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks in which a completely baffled national television audience watches rookie quarterback for Seattle Russell Wilson scramble to his left out of the pocket, pause with pressure quickly approaching, set his feet, cock back his arm and, in miraculous fashion, somehow toss the ball well over 60 yards down field to a leaping tandem of Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate and Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings in the corner of the end zone.
Where a battle for the ball ensues before both players fall to the ground, seemingly wrapped up in each other’s arms like eager lovers.
A sudden gasp is released.
One official, standing behind the two players as they come to rest on the turf of CenturyLink Field, then calls the play a touchdown, while a second, standing no more than two to three feet to the left of the first, waves his arms in a motion signaling an interception for a touchback.
Mayhem ensues as Seattle’s bench empties onto the field in celebration, Seahawks fans erupt in more than mild disbelief at the completely unexpected 13-12 victory and color commentators for ESPN simply repeat in utter shock, “[This] has to be looked at because it’s a score …”
Meanwhile, a literal UFC title match between Tate and Jennings breaks out on the ground, right in the very spot where both players landed and ignited all this chaos.
An ESPN camera tries to zoom in and is knocked about as Seattle head coach Pete Carroll appears to jump into the melee in order to aid his third-year wide receiver out of Notre Dame. (Like you’re going to be able to do anything, Pete; back to the sidelines with you, you silver-haired expatriate of the Pac-10!)
ESPN’s commentators, aghast, can only say, “This is the most bizarre sequence you’ll ever see at the end of a game.”
One, deciding to insert his own opinion on the matter, probably to the total dismay of his producers, quickly adds, “Golden Tate gets away with one of the most blatant offensive pass interference calls I’ve ever seen.”
America, still sitting on the edges of its seats hoping for a more definitive explanation of what just happened, is informed by Mike Tirico that the play cannot be reviewed for the purposes of determining which of two or more players fighting for the ball actually ended up as its final recipient.
Instead, a final determination must be made on the playing field by those officials calling the game, which, despite a plethora of evidence to the contrary – shown from multiple camera angles, Jennings clearly comes down with the ball in both his and hands and pulled to his chest -, ends up with Tate’s catch being ruled a touchdown, and the Seahawks ending up the beneficiaries of arguably the worst call ever made in the history of the NFL.
Just how bad was the play call viewed?
So much so that SportsBettingOnline.ag released a statement early Tuesday announcing it was granting what it referred to as a weekly “mulligan” which could be used on the aforementioned game – or, in fact, any game moving forward in the 2012 season – to obtain a refund on any bet lost because of a controversial call made by replacement NFL officials.
“While we’re an online sportsbook,” reads the statement (as reported by the Chicago Tribune), “we’re sports fans first. And this NFL season is unbelievable painful to watch, mainly because of the incompetence of replacement refs. We feel for sports bettors, so we’re giving every one of our members a Replacement Ref Mulligan that they can use once a week.”
A much-need reprieve, indeed.
Especially so with the Tribune adding this last interesting tidbit to close its story on SportsBettingOnline.ag’s decision:
Reports suggest there was an estimated money swing of as much as $250 million worldwide because of the controversial call.
That’s how badThat Call was.