If baseball is America’s pastime, then football, specifically the professional kind, is America’s obsession. The National Football League will exceed $10 Billion dollars in revenue this season. That’s Billion with a B, like, Beyond Belief. It’s $3 Billion more than the league’s richest owner, Microsoft tycoon, Paul Allen. He owns the Seattle Seahawks. Last night, in front of seventy thousand fans, one-hundred-ten players, and six guys who looked like and acted like they worked for Foot Locker, the Seahawks won a game they shouldn’t have and it broke the Twitter.
On the twenty-first anniversary of the release of Seattle band Nirvana’s Nevermind album, dudes that would have pushed those three geniuses into lockers, the Green Bay Packers and the aforementioned Seahawks, played a football game in the Pacific Northwest that will be talked about for a long time. In the waning seconds, with the Packers leading 12-7, Seattle’s rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson, rolled to his left and heaved a pass into the left side of the endzone. In a crowd of two Seahawks’ receivers and three Packers’ defensive backs, two guys called referees really, really messed up.
One official signaled something like right turn on a motorcycle, and another one shot his arms in the air like Ringo and Honeybunny from Pulp Fiction drew guns on him. What followed was very much a “robbery”.
From the vantage point of my queen-sized bed, flanked by my phone (for tweeting purposes), golden retriever, and sleeping wife, I saw Green Bay defensive back, M.R. Jennings, forget he had initials for a name and intercept Wilson’s pass. As Jennings came down to the endzone bermuda, Seattle receiver Golden Tate (now you see why I mentioned my dog), shoved his arms under Jennings. The two referee wet themselves, figuratively. I don’t know the condition of their trousers after the game. But their reactions indicated, “Uh, I need to go to the bathroom.”
After a review from the press box official (we’ll come back to him) and plenty of Green Bay whine from cheeseheads, the ruling stood. Like the United States Presidential election of 2000, someone was declared a winner. As then, only fools were happy and thought it was fair. As of now, Seattle has beaten Green Bay 14-12. Social media has wet itself.
The best reactions came from the people who actually sweated, hit, bled, and perhaps drank water during the game; the players. The best Twitter feed came from @TJLang70 , a Green Bay offensive lineman who I’m sure played flawlessly (sarcasm - he didn’t) and thus could not have prevented his team from being in a position to be so disappointed that he was led to post:
@TJLang70 Got f**ked by the refs.. Embarrassing. Thanks nfl
Yes, I added the asterisks in there. I don’t want to get fined by the Sprocket Writer League.
The NFL has locked out their regular, part-time, $8 thousand dollar a game referees because they were demanding pensions and full-time employee status. If The NFL gave in to every regular referee demand, it would cost each of the 32 teams about $1.2 million per year. So, for the price of an average defensive tackle, players, fans, and media types could whine about qualified officials.
The current crop of zebra shirts come from the small college ranks. The crew that worked last night’s Seattle Screwjob was made up of dudes with high school, Division III and semi-pro experience.
Think about your gym or that jacked up guy at your kid’s little league game. As amazing shape as he is in, he can’t hack it as aprofessional athlete. Today’s pro players are serious freaks of nature. It takes a Liam Neeson Taken set of skills to keep up with and control those specimens. But, as Rage Against The Machine said, “the more money you make the money you take”. The NFL is saving about $40 million dollars by locking out the referees. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has that kind of coin in his girlfriend’s seat cushions.
Unless the Twitter and Facebook outraged NFL players join the picket line with the guys they want back so bad, that when they do return, they’ll gripe about them too; nothing will change. The NFL has no incentive to pay referees a full-time wage with pensions.
Oh, and the guy in the booth who was supervising these bumbling stooges on the field? His name is Phil Luckett. In 1998, he blew a call against the Seattle Seahawks on a touchdown call. He ruled that New York Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde’s helmet was a football. That kept the Seahawks out of the playoffs and cost their head coach, Dennis Erickson, his job. Also, earlier that season, Luckett messed up the coin toss in a Thanksgiving game between Pittsburgh and Detroit. A coin toss. I didn’t make that up. Google and Wikipedia are boss. So the incompetent were guarded by another incompetent.
I can’t wait to watch next week to see how the National Football League’s greed and lack of integrity make for even better television. Also, has “Seattle Screwjob” made its way into Urbandictionary.com?