Still seething about a controversial game-deciding call that went against his team in Seattle, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers...
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Still seething about a controversial game-deciding call that went against his team in Seattle, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers used his weekly radio show on Tuesday to dismiss the NFL’s explanation for the replacement officials’ decision.
“I just feel bad for the fans,” Rodgers said on ESPN 540 AM. “They pay good money and the game is being tarnished by an NFL who obviously cares more about saving a little money then having the integrity of the game diminish a little bit.”
Replacement officials ruled that a last-second scrum in the end zone resulted in a touchdown to Seahawks receiver Golden Tate — when Rodgers, his teammates, Packers fans and much of the football-watching public saw a clear-cut interception by the Packers’ M.D. Jennings in Seattle’s 14-12 win on Monday night.
The side judge who signaled touchdown on the final play, Lance Easley of Santa Maria, Calif., worked junior-college and high-school games along California’s Central Coast before the NFL hired him as a replacement, according to the Santa Maria Times.
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And the quarterback also scoffed at the notion that replacement referee Wayne Elliott determined that there was no indisputable visual evidence to overturn the call on the field through instant replay.
“I mean, come on, Wayne, that’s embarrassing,” Rodgers said. “This is the NFL here saying they should have called pass interference and saying that the refs got it right in the end zone. Unbelievable.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy continued to take the high road Tuesday evening, but did acknowledge that he thought the play “clearly” was an interception. And his colleagues around the NFL apparently thought the same thing.
“I received more text messages and e-mail s than I did after the Super Bowl,” McCarthy said. “I can tell the impact this made.”
Whether it hits home in the commissioner’s office remains to be seen.
“The brand power of the NFL needs more than one screw-up to affect it,” Juda Engelmayer, senior vice president for crisis management for 5W Public Relations in New York, told the Kansas City Star. “A couple more calls like this, and the public will start seeing the owners as greedy people who don’t care about the game any more.
“When Roger Goodell is setting out to bust the union to get what he wants, the trick is to show you can do better without the union. In this case he’s failing. He’s actually proving the union’s point that they’re needed.
“That call was the call seen around the world, the laughable call around the world. Everyone knew that. The NFL’s becoming amateur hour. It’s not going to take much more to start eroding the fan base.”
Other fallout from the Monday Night imbroglio:
• An estimated $300 million in bets worldwide shifted on the final call when the Packers — ahead by five and 3 ½ — point favorites — were suddenly two-point losers. “Never have I seen such an egregious call that represented such a huge swing in money,” said Kevin Bradley, sports book manager for Bovada.lv.
• Because of the game’s controversial ending, ESPN’s “SportsCenter” immediately after the game was the most-viewed in the show’s 33-year history (5,092,000 U.S. households), and the second highest-rated (4.5), according to Nielsen ratings.
• ESPN, which televised it, reported 70,000 voice messages flooded the NFL’s switchboard after the call.
• In New Jersey, where the Giants and Jets play their home games, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he would introduce legislation prohibiting sporting events in the state from taking place with replacement officials.
• Headline on the back page of the New York Post: “DISGRACE!”