Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My thoughts on the Seattle Screwjob

Like most Wisconsinites, I was watching that travesty of a football game last night, and it's very tough to take on a lot of levels. First, I'll go with the football level, as the Pack dropping to 1-2 and 1-2 in the conference puts them in a hole. This is especially true if they end up in a tie with Seattle for playoff position, or even with the other teams in the NFC North, as they all play the NFC West and the Pack's now 0-2 against that division. The last 2 Super Bowl Champs (Packers and Giants) were the last teams in the playoffs in each of those years, and the possibility get ripped out of a spot due to those brutal calls disgusts me. There's 13 games left and the Pack can certainly recover, but every game is so big in the NFL, and to have one taken away like that...unacceptable.

Next, I'll discuss the replacement officials in general. It's hard to expect these guys to be close to the level of the real refs because the amount of speed and power in the NFL game is just so great, and these players are so good, that you can't expect them to be able to keep up. That being said, there is never any excuse for a play to lead to a picture that looks like this.

The fact that two guys are signaling two different things in such a big play is the mark of a crew who doesn't know how to work together. And then the referee compunded the mistake by not taking command of the situation, having a conference between the two refs to go over what they saw, and then making a call that could be reviewed.
The fact that none of these procedures were followed and carried out indicates the kind of unprofessional conduct that turns this officiating into a mockery where you watch this and say "These guys don't know what they're doing," and you cannot trust any call they make.

A couple of other notes- That last-play "TD" by Seattle may have been one of the craziest moments in gambling history, with an estimated $300 million changing hands on that one play, since the Packers were 3 1/2 point favorites and in position to cover. It also gave a flip to the money line (when you bet on the winner of the game instead of the spread), and the article goes on to note that the bookies are noting the effect of replacement refs on the lines and the game scores.
Casinos had already begun to react to replacement officials before Week 3 began, predicting the most scoring ever across the league.

Now, adjustments for replacement referees that were only talked about previously are being factored into betting lines, Colbert said.

"We've seen it now,'' Colbert said. "If we do see trends and we see bets, we'll move more aggressively than we did in the past.''

Teams normally get a 3-point edge factored into the line when they play at home. That home edge could be worth a half-point more with games refereed by replacement officials, depending on the game, Colbert said. Colbert said he believed the Monday night referees got caught up in the excitement of Seattle's home crowd.

"I'd be willing to make a big bet that if that game is in Green Bay, that play is overturned and they win it,'' he said.
I also have little doubt that this official and the replay official were intimidated by the Seattle crowd, and that played into their decision to puss out and let the play stand when the replays showed the Packers' M.V. Jennings clearly had possession first and never lost possession, making that an INT in the rulebook.

I just hope it was just incompetence taking place in Seattle last night, and not something else involving Vegas. When you realize that the same ref that made the TD call on the last play of the game is the same guy who made an awful pass interference call on Sam Shields earlier in the 4th quarter (bailing the Seahawks out of what would have been 2nd and 30, and leading to Seattle gaining field position that paid off on that last drive), you have to ask the question about if there were other things these guys had in mind.

After all, it's not like these guys were heavily vetted when the league hauled them in this Summer to replace the real refs (remember the ref who had to be pulled off of a Saints game because he had plenty of items on Facebook showing him backing the Saints). If these replacement refs realize this is a short-term deal, they'd have a hell of an incentive to use their influence to make some money betting on games in Vegas- a lot more than the regular refs who would be more likely to care about keeping their jobs and the league's integrity.

But as I'll mention in Part 2, you're dealing with a league run by people who don't really seem to care all that much about treating their employees well or caring about the integrity of their games. Which makes them like a lot of other rich white men in this country, when you think of it.

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