By now, the controversial image of the two NFL “Replacement Refs” signaling two different calls has circulated the internet.
One official indicated a stoppage of play while the other “simultaneously” indicated a touchdown after Seahawks receiver Golden Tate was awarded a touchdown instead of what some would argue was an interception by Packers safety M.D. Jennings.
The touchdown decision was attributed to the rules for a simultaneous catch according to the NFL rule book:
"If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control."
That last sentence is the catalyst for the outrage, as it describes exactly what appeared to have happened.
In just week 3, during that game, it was that play on that September night, which shook the worlds of players, coaches, fans, and politicians alike.
During a campaign trail stop in Ohio, Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan made a comparison between President Obama’s economic record and the replacement officials.
“It reminds me of President Obama and the economy. If you can’t get it right, it’s time to get out. I half-think that these refs work part-time for the Obama administration and the budget office,” Ryan said.
President Barack Obama later tweeted about the egregious call, but didn’t mention Ryan’s analogy.
Once a key political figure and the leader of the “free world” make such unrestricted and explicit comments regarding a matter; the image and integrity of those involved may likely come to the forefront.
The NFL’s image was in question prior to the 2012 season when the New Orleans Saints “bounty-gate” scandal surfaced. That resulted in NFL commissioner Roger Goodell handing strict sanctions handed down to some Saints players. Saints head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the season.
However, the imposed player sanctions were later overturned because of insufficient evidence of the players’ undeniable intent to injure.
If not the Saints player sanction failure, the NFL’s replacement official debacle may have been the sole contributor of any damage to the league’s image and integrity.
So what’s next for the officials? Signaling Rodger Godell for frequent occurrences of questionable judgement?