First and foremost, I am Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan. That also makes me a football fan. I have played and watched and coached a lot of football in my many years on this rock so while that doesn’t necessarily make me an expert, I do feel a certain amount of expertise. I feel, therefore, it’s my duty to break down this play in the only way I can and that means as sarcastically as possible. You’ve been warned.
On the final play of the Green Bay – Seattle Game Monday night, the ball hung in the air seemingly longer than any 24-yard hail mary ever should. The Seahawks and Packers massed in the far left of the end zone waiting for the pigskin to come down. As the ball approached, Seahawks’ receiver Golden Tate shoved a Packers’ defender so hard from the back that he went flying towards the front of the end zone. It was reminiscent of seeing brides’ maids pummel and push each other as the bride tosses the bouquet.
With that guy out of the way, and more than likely chewing on the little rubber shards that were now flying in all directions from the turf, Tate was in position. But Packers’ defensive back M.D. Jennings had other ideas and went high above everyone else in the melee to grab the ball. With both hands on the ball, Jennings started to pull it into his chest like a mother cradling a baby. Tate could do nothing but throw his hands in there and attempt to ‘pretend’ he had caught it.
Essentially, Tate wasn’t catching the ball, he was catching Jennings. Apparently this was a new rule established at the home office in New York. “Any player catching another player who has caught the ball is deemed to have caught the ball himself and should be awarded the reception.” One could assume that Moe Howard was brought in to make this rule, but Larry and Curly weren’t available for counsel.
Two replacement officials came on scene and did exactly what they were supposed to do. They looked at each other, seemed to agree on the call and then promptly, they each gave a completely opposite hand signal from the other. One signaled touchdown while the other signaled a stop in play presumably to signal a change in possession. While some could have mistaken it for a two-person version of the ‘YMCA,’ it was clear this was a disaster in the making. But it got worse.
The fake zebras did the correct thing and by rule went to the replay booth. Now I’ve talked to hundreds of people who have seen this play and I have not encountered one who has believed that Tate caught the ball. Amazingly, it only took one person, the fake referee for the day, to see it differently. And I can tell you exactly why.
I will go to my grave believing that not only did the referee, errrrrrr, fake referee talk over the play with the replay official, but I also believe another conversation took place and this is what changed things forever. While the crowd in Seattle will never be confused with Oakland’s black hole, it is nevertheless a loud, raucous crowd that remains that way throughout the game. Had the fake referee announced the play was over-turned, would he have made it out alive? Would any of them have made it out alive? Ummm, no.
So there, with Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll standing literally close enough to smell the fake zebra’s Hi-Karate or Drakkar Noir cologne, the call was made and the crowd and Carroll immediately burst into excitement and joy. For the Packers, they immediately hung their heads and went directly to where we all go in times of distress and anger…. Twitter.
Thankfully today, it seems cooler heads are prevailing and the refs and the league are very close to a deal at press time. I cannot tell you how much I’ve missed Ed Hoculi’s bulging biceps or Mike Carey’s pronounced first down signal. We must be honest with each other though, because I guarantee there will be missed calls and over officious jerks in the first games back for the regulars but I know I’ll be glad to have them back. I mean, who doesn’t love a real zebra?