If you’re a football fan, heck, even if you’re a Seattle Seahawks’ fan, you should have had your stomach turning at the site of what happened in Seattle on Monday night.
In case you missed it, the Seahawks scored a game-winning touchdown with no time left in regulation on Monday Night Football as quarterback Russell Wilson heaved a ball into the endzone and Golden Tate was awarded the score.
However, what wasn’t called were two different things, both of which should have allowed the Packers to win. First, as anyone who was watching saw, Tate got away with a blatant pass interference as he shoved one Green Bay defender in the back and completely out of his way. Secondly, the ball was not a tie-catch, which is by rule, awarded to the offensive player. The ball was clearly possessed by the Green Bay defender before Tate had a chance to tie it up.
But the referees got it wrong, completely wrong, and that got me thinking how ironic all of it really was.
Of course, everyone knows the NFL is using replacement referees while the owners continue to lockout the league’s officials. But what some people don’t know is, that most of the replacement officials, are regular NAIA officials.
Yes, the NFL is using some of the very same referees that officiate Frontier Conference and NAIA games across the country every Saturday.
And while I’m not going to sit here and blast the officiating at any level of football, mainly because I’ve never done it, if you were at the MSU-Northern-UM-Western game on Saturday, it would only take you one instance to know that NAIA refs have no business officiating the biggest and most popular sport in the world right now.
The crew working the Northern-Western game Saturday horribly botched the end of the first half as Northern was trying to score a touchdown to go up by double digits. First of all, they allowed Western to play on top of Northern running back Justin Montelius who had scored an obvious touchdown, though the points were not awarded. Montelius was not allowed to get up, and Northern was out of timeouts, but it was only third down, so the Lights were going to clock the ball and have one more play.
But in Northern’s favor, the head official did signal for the clock to be stopped while the pile was unstacked, which is not right either because the clock doesn’t stop on running plays in football. And when that mess was all over, the clock started, the Lights spiked the ball and had 2.5 seconds remaining to run one last play.
But even more mayhem ensued.
The officials first asked for the clock to be run down to exactly one second. OK, still enough time to run a play. But then, just as Northern was about to snap the ball, the official again stepped in and said the half was over, and they ran off the field with no further explanation.
Now in fairness, I’m not saying the officials got it completely wrong, because, as stated earlier, the clock should have never stopped at 10.5 seconds. But it was stopped and then the whole changing their minds two more times, that was just wrong and bizarre, and what’s worse is, even at the Frontier level, the officials are miked up and there should have been some sort of rules explanation as to why they decided what they decided. But there was none of that, instead, they ran to their camper and that was that.
I have yet to see an explanation for it come from the league office either and to me that is disappointing because it was a major foul up, in one way or another.
And that takes me back to Monday night in Seattle.
I don’t know and haven’t heard of any of Monday night’s officials in the Seattle-Green Bay game have worked Frontier games or any NAIA games for that matter, but it was pretty clear they were in over their heads.
It’s tough to actually blame them because they were asked to do this and what referee wouldn’t jump at the chance to ref NFL games. Football officials take their job just as seriously and have just as much passion for what they do as the players and coaches in the games they’re officiating do.
But, after knowing that NAIA refs are officiating NFL games, and after seeing an officiating debacle in an NAIA game just two days prior to what ensued in Seattle, enough is enough.
Roger Goodell and the NFL owners need to make this thing go away. It’s been said a million times since Monday night, but I’ll say it too. Let us, that live in the world of the NAIA have our officials back. We’ll take them and have few problems with it.
But those guys aren’t ready for the NFL, and the league, its players and its fans need the professional officials back, and they need them back quick.
Please National Football League, make that happen, and all of us, who live in the realm of lower level football, we’ll sort out the rest.