This was a tough one. No matter how the game ended, I wasn’t going to feel very good about it. There were multiple times in the third quarter that I nearly turned my television off due to horrible officiating. Normally, I write this post right after the game, but I was about to blow a blood vessel so I had to marinate in my thoughts for a while.
My Facebook wall exploded with garbage from fans of various other teams to the point that I actually closed my wall to comments for the first time ever. This is the type of game that even Seattle fans can’t feel wholly okay with. Seahawk fans were just as disappointed in the officiating as anyone else – nobody wants a win to be questioned. That being said, it is important to remember a few things.
First, the Seattle Seahawks owe an apology to no one. If anybody thinks that any other team would have tried to give the win away after the game ended they are lying. Green Bay would not have done anything differently nor would any other team. Also, in no way are the referees or the calls they made the fault of any player, coach, or personnel of the Seahawks. Twitter comments and plenty of talking heads spouted off either implicitly or explicitly attacking individual players as if they did something wrong. Rick Reilly went so far as to call Golden Tate a flat out cheater. Luckily, a friend reminded me that “they should have sent a search party up Rick Reilly’s ass years ago, because he disappeared up there about a decade back.” According to Reilly’s perverse logic, every player that ever committed a foul of any kind and didn’t get called for it is a “cheater.” And the worst part is, Trent Dilfer and Steve Young just looked at the ever-moronic Stuart Scott, who had just commented on how Tate learned how to lie well while at Notre Dame, like that was a totally acceptable thing to say.
Where I come from, being called a cheater is a big deal and goes straight to the integrity of a person. In no way did the Seahawks cheat. Neither did the Ravens in kicking their field goal Sunday night, and neither did Jim Harbaugh when he challenged a play using a timeout that San Francisco didn’t have.
I also cannot help but become completely indignant and take a defensive posture after all the comments. If this had been flipped and Seattle got screwed and Green Bay won, I have no doubt that Seattle would essentially be told to “shut up and take it.” Much of the country seems to think that we should simply be grateful for being allowed to have a professional team at all. In Seattle sports history, the Seahawks had an NFL referee apologize to them for making horrible calls against them in the Super Bowl. There was also the Vinny Testaverde helmet touchdown that kept Seattle from the playoffs in 1998. While we’re at it, let’s also mention game 7 of the 1993 western conference finals where the Sonics got straight screwed by Dick Bavetta, Ed Rush, and Mike Mathes. Seattle has had more than its fair share of heartbreak due to horrible officiating.
I only bring up that history because of how personal and antagonistic many people became against Seahawks players and fans in general after Monday’s game. Last I checked, the refs didn’t allow Aaron Rodgers to be sacked eight times in the first half. That was TJ Lang and the rest of Green Bay’s offensive line who had no lack for excuses after the game. There were also the terrible pass-interference calls against Richard Sherman that, at a minimum, helped Green Bay get their only touchdown. I really don’t want to be defensive and indignant over this, but I’m proud of my city and my sports teams and feel that some lines have been crossed.
You don’t get the results of a study or survey by simply counting the final answer given, you look at the whole set of data. So, as tempting as it is, we can’t look at just the last call of the game. It sucks because maybe teams can recover from bad calls made earlier, but sometimes bad calls can also accumulate and can become insurmountable. The final call last night, unfortunately, came literally at the end of the game but it was far from the only bad call in the game.
I understand that people feel cheated. Hell, I feel cheated. I don’t want to have this win hang over my team’s head for the rest of the season like an NFL-owners-greed-created sword of Damocles, but I know that it will. Seattle must now prove itself even more than it already had to in order to get an ounce of credit. And heaven forbid they make the playoffs by one win.
Everyone gushed when pseudo-intellectual Steve Young commented last week that the NFL resided on an inelastic demand curve. The NFL faces no close substitutes for consumers and will be highly demanded no matter what happens. Therefore the refs’ union should be “busted” as Young put it (a comment I believe inspired by Young’s conservative political beliefs and begs the question of Steve Young’s thoughts on the NFLPA, a union which he was a part of and benefited from). A humble man would have eaten those words after week three’s games, but I’m pretty sure Young is still suffering from brain trauma and is incapable of humility. Even if we stipulate that demand for the NFL is inelastic (which is debatable), integrity is a scarce resource and one that the NFL is consuming rapidly at this point.
If people don’t believe that games are being won by the best teams in a fairly officiated contest, they will realize they do have substitutions for the NFL – for example, doing anything else but sit inside in front of the TV every Sunday. It turns out that having a competent, professional officiating crew is integral to maintaining integrity and fan-bases, and consequently an inelastic demand curve for the NFL’s product. Steve Young was very upset that the shield was getting tarnished and yes it is, but the solution is simple. Bring back the refs.
Jerry Jones might think the current situation is fine, but we all know it isn’t. Fans, players, coaches, and even, I’m sure, many owners. So instead of forcing Seattle fans to defend their city and team, I suggest that pundits (just about everyone at ESPN), idiots (Stephen A. Smith, Rick Reilly et al.), Twits, and frustrated fans from all cities direct their anger at frustration at the people causing the situation – Roger Goodell and the owners – instead of the easy, and incorrect, targets – the team you happen to playing that week.