Upon further review. . . the NFL sided with the replacement official – who are never worked above the Division III college level – that called the final play of Monday night’s infamous 14-12 Seattle victory a Seahawks touchdown, reaffirming the game-deciding ruling that has sparked national outrage.
The league insisted that Seattle’s last-second touchdown pass should not have been overturned but admitted that Seahawks receiver Golden Tate should have been called for offensive pass interference before the catch.
More than 70,000 voicemails were left at the league offices Monday night, an NFL source told ESPN’s Seth Markman.
Meanwhile, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is meeting with representatives of the locked-out officials – discussions had been planned before the controversy. According to a source, there have been ongoing negotiations over the last week
In conversations Monday afternoon, the parties scheduled sessions for Tuesday. On the heels of the Monday night madness, the NFL issued a statement on the labor dispute with the referees.
“There is broad agreement that the quality and consistency of officiating can and should be improved. How to accomplish that is a critical issue separating the two sides in this negotiation,” the statement read. “While the officials’ union would like to turn this into purely an economic dispute, we have told the union and the federal mediator that we are prepared to make reasonable economic compromises and that we will invest more money in officiating as long as it assures long term improvement.
“We have made a number of specific proposals to accomplish that, including by developing a deeper, more diverse talent pool that is trained in NFL officiating earlier and more intensively.”
The league indicated that Lance Easley, who made the “touchdown” signal after it appeared M.D. Jennings had made an interception to preserve a Green Bay victory, had four years of officiating experience, none above the D3 level.
So decisive was this call that President Barack Obama spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One that the president, an avid sports fan, watched the game and “thinks there was a real problem with that call.” Green Bay is in politically important Wisconsin, adding significance to Obama’s stance.
“NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs’ lockout is settled soon,” Obama wrote on Twitter.
The ire of coaches, players and fans at the struggles of the replacements had been steadily building this season, and it reached an apex Monday with what everybody had feared would happen: a highly questionable call deciding a game.
On the final play of “Monday Night Football,” Russell Wilson heaved a 24-yard pass into a scrum in the end zone with Seattle trailing 12-7. Tate shoved away a defender with both hands, and the NFL acknowledged Tuesday he should have been penalized, which would have clinched a Packers victory. But that lack of a call cannot be reviewed by instant replay.
Tate and Jennings then both got their hands on the ball, though the Packers insisted Jennings had clear possession for a game-ending interception.
“It was pinned to my chest the whole time,” Jennings said.
Instead, the officials ruled on the field that the two had simultaneous possession, which counts as a reception. Once that happened, the NFL said, the referee was correct that no indisputable visual evidence existed on review to overturn the touchdown call.
During his weekly radio appearance Tuesday morning on KIRO-AM in Seattle, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he understands why there is so much outrage about the call that awarded Tate a touchdown. But he said the call ruling it a simultaneous catch, which awards the reception to the offense, was correm,,,,,,,,,,, was among the least experienced members of the referee Wayne Elliott”s crew of replacement officials despite the NFL previously requiring all officials to have 10 years of experience with at least five in major-college football.
Elliott is a Texas grad with 21 years as college and professional official in Division II, III and a listing for other.
Back judge Derrick Rhone-Dunn, who went to Langston and Oklahoma, has nine years of experience in Division I, II, III and has other experience.
The NFL locked out the officials in June after their contract expired. Unable to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, the league opened the season with replacements, most with experience only in lower levels of college football.