Seahawks receiver Golden Tate has been called a cheater by fans angry about his disputed Hail Mary catch. What he can do for an encore?
Golden Tate might not have had his breakout game Monday, because the Seahawks’ staff believes he has only scraped the surface of his potential.
But, as offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said wryly Wednesday, “I definitely believe everyone knows who Golden Tate is now.”
He’s a household name, even though in some households — particularly those with a greenish hue — the Tate name is being taken in vain.
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In the wake of Monday’s Hail Mary Heard (and Harangued) ‘Round the World, Tate says he’s been inundated with reaction via every form of social media. Much of it has been anti-social.
“If I mentioned those words, it would be bleeps, bleeps, bleeps,” he said. “Some nasty stuff. It’s mean. I’ve been called a cheater. I don’t have any dignity. I’m not a Christian. A lot of hurtful things. I just pray on it and continue to live my life.”
It’s actually been two weeks in the maelstrom for Tate, who took some heat a week earlier for celebrating an explosive block on Dallas linebacker Sean Lee. That earned a reported $21,000 fine from the NFL.
But it was nothing compared to the backlash from his disputed catch in Monday’s win over the Packers. Tate praised the support he’s received from teammates, Seahawks officials and fans, but it hasn’t drowned out all of the negativity.
“There’s been moments it’s been tough, but when you have family in the locker room and in this building, it makes it a little easier,” he said. “It hasn’t been too bad. My feelings have been hurt a little on Twitter, but whatever.”
Tate added with a laugh, “Probably the best part is I think I’ve moved up in followers like 5 or 6,000 … I guess people know my name in their household because of the two controversial calls. It’s OK.”
As the world knows by now, Tate went up for Russell Wilson’s desperation pass as time expired in Monday night’s game against Green Bay, grappling for the ball with defender M.D. Jennings. The replacement officials ruled it a touchdown, a conclusion not widely supported outside Seattle.
“A lot of people would just like for me to come out and say, ‘I did not catch that ball,’ ” Tate said incredulously.
He won’t do that, but Tate does concede that he pushed Green Bay defender Sam Shields, as was clearly visible in the replay.
“The evidence shows on the film,” Tate said. “But I never had intentions on cheating. I wasn’t trying to cheat. I was competing, it was in the moment. Things are happening so quick. I honestly didn’t even notice I did. I didn’t try to hurt him or push him down to the ground, but it happened. It was just a reaction kind of thing. …
“As far as pushing the defender, I was caught up in the moment, playing football. At that point, it was just like backyard football — find a way to get the ball. I didn’t intentionally try to shove him to the ground.”
In an on-field interview immediately after the game with ESPN’s Lisa Salter, Tate replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” when asked if he had pushed off on the play.
“At the time, right after the game, I hadn’t seen the replay,” Tate explained Tuesday. “… A lot of people got a chance to see it on their DVR, rewind and play it 50 times on the big screen. But I didn’t have that opportunity. At that moment, I couldn’t tell you completely what had happened.”
What did happen, now that Tate has had an opportunity to see the play that Bevell said “has been on a continuous loop” on television?
“I personally felt like I had the ball at that time,” Tate said. “Looking back, just off what I remember, I felt I had the ball in my hands. We both competed for the ball, and the call ended up going our way, and we won the game.”
Tate feels somewhat vindicated by the NFL’s ruling Tuesday that upheld the call.
“It’s refreshing to know the NFL thinks they made the right call,” he said. “That should clear up a lot of things because they’re the ones that make the rules.”
Tate insists his focus now is on the Seahawks’ next opponent, the Rams. What can he do Sunday in St. Louis to top what has happened the past two weeks?
“Maybe throwing a touchdown pass or kicking a field goal or punting it,” he mused. “Maybe even a fake punt that causes some more controversy. We’ll see.”
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @StoneLarry