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Bill Plaschke: Now throw a white flag and bring back the NFL officials

By By Bill Plaschke

Los Angeles Times (MCT)

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 25 2012 10:03 a.m. MDT

Officials signal after Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate pulled in a last-second pass for a touchdown from quarterback Russell Wilson to defeat the Green Bay Packers 14-12 in an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, in Seattle. The touchdown call stood after review.

seattlepi.com, Joshua Trujillo, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — On the final play of the final game of one of the most shameful weekends in NFL history, a last-gasp pass from the Seattle Seahawks fell from the sky into the arms of the Green Bay Packers on Monday night.

Touchdown, Seattle. Chaos, NFL.

Three weeks of gross incompetence by unqualified replacement officials crystallized in two moments Monday night that pushed the league’s integrity to the brink.

In one moment, Packers safety M.D. Jennings clearly intercepted a final-play pass while falling upon Seahawks receiver Golden Tate in the end zone, preserving an apparent 12-7 Green Bay win.

In the next moment, the replacement officials ruled that Tate had made the catch, and upheld that ruling after replay review, giving the Seahawks a 14-12 victory.

Said Packers Coach Mike McCarthy: “I’ve never seen anything like that in all my years in football.”

Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman tweeted: “These games are a joke.”

It’s finally happened. After three weeks of forgetting the rules, losing track of the ball, and haphazardly administering this country’s national pastime as if they were salesmen on vacation from Foot Locker, the replacement officials have finally done serious, irrevocable damage. The arrogant NFL’s middle-school and small-college substitutes for the locked-out regular officials have finally, actually, literally made one wrong call that decided the outcome of a game.

It was one of the worst calls in the history of the league, yet it might turn out to be one of the best calls if humiliated Commissioner Roger Goodell was listening to the message it sent.

Give it up. Settle this labor dispute. Settle it now. Your power play didn’t work. Officials are not cardboard cutouts who can be replaced with cheap facsimiles. The decorum of your sport cannot be enforced by substitute teachers. The safety of your players cannot be monitored by crossing guards. The administration of your game cannot be handled by temps.

Cut your losses. Show who you are. Show what your game means. Prove that the new national pastime is not just another corrupt old business. Prove that you really respect the game more than you need to win this labor fight. Do you really care as much about the health of your players as the health of your league’s bank account? Has all this recent cracking down on cracking heads been sincere or just spin?

End this lockout before it further damages the season while indelibly staining your legacy. End it before Thursday begins a fourth weekend of madness.

Even before Monday night, the fans had spoken. Did you hear the cursing chant from Baltimore? When the Ravens faithful had finally endured enough of this foolishness Sunday, they rained a unified two-syllable expletive down upon the fake officials that walloped millions of television viewers like a Ray Lewis forearm, the loudest and longest profane chant I’ve ever heard.

The players had also spoken. Less than a week after the NFL ordered its personnel to stop harassing the paper zebras because “everybody has a responsibility to respect the game,” one guy was still so angry he put it in writing. Brandon Spikes, linebacker for the New England Patriots, tweeted, “Can some 1 please tell these (expletive) zebras foot locker called and they’re needed Back at work!!!!” His hashtag was a perfection description of the situation. It read, #BreakingPoint.

Even the game’s finest coach spoke. Bill Belichick was so upset after his Patriots lost to the Ravens on Sunday, he grabbed at one of the replacement officials in an act of rage rarely seen in a league where a head coach has never been ejected from a game.

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