Everyone and their bookie couldnt wait to weigh in on the outrageous and unjust, even the NFL later admitted conclusion to the Seahawks-Packers game late Monday night.
As soon as the officiating crew in Seattle upheld the touchdown-call-that-never-should-have-been, Dolphins running back Reggie Bush told his 2.6 million Twitter followers he has had enough of the leagues shaky replacement officials.
These refs gotta go Im sorry, Bush wrote in one tweet, before adding in another, Refs single handedly blew this one...
Added Brian Hartline on Twitter: WOW!! Help please [Roger Goodell, the NFLs commissioner]. I had to check my TV Guide [because] for a sec I thought I was watching Punkd... I was just waiting for Ashton [Kutcher] to pop out.
Usually, Hartline and Bush along with dozens of their similarly outspoken peers could expect fines for such explicit criticism. But these are no normal times. The NFL has no plans to punish them, a league spokesman said Tuesday.
Perhaps the executives on Park Avenue know they have a far bigger issue on their hands: salvaging the credibility of their long-protected shield.
(And not just because the last-second Hail Mary cost gamblers millions; 75 percent of bettors at the online gambling site bovada.lv took the Packers, with millions lost because of the disputed call.)
The NFL admitted Tuesday that the game-winning touchdown catch by Seattles Golden Tate should not have counted but not for the reason most believed.
The league backed the ruling that Tate, and not Packers safety M.D. Jennings, came down with the ball, but did stipulate that Tate should have been flagged for a game-ending offensive-pass-interference penalty, which the officials missed.
However, such penalties are not subject to instant replay, and so the on-field officials were correct in naming Seattle the winners, the league argued. The result of the game is final, the NFL said in a statement.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who criticized the initial call Monday, wasnt any more impressed by the next-day response. The game is being tarnished by an NFL that obviously cares more about saving some money than having the integrity of the game diminished a little bit, he told Milwaukees ESPN 540 on Tuesday.
Also missing from the seven-paragraph statement: Whether the real, more-qualified officials will be back on the field anytime soon. They have been locked out all season, the result of a labor dispute over retirement benefits, among other issues.
Working in their place: dozens of stand-in officials from college footballs lower classifications including a Fort Lauderdale bank executive.
During the week, Bob Powell is a regional vice president for TD Bank. On Sundays, hes a replacement field judge. Powell wasnt part of a crew that came under fire during Week 3, working the Bills drama-free win in Cleveland.
Still, he was in no mood to talk when reached at his office Tuesday.
Ive got to pass you on to the NFL, Powell said good-naturedly. Were under strict orders not to talk at all.
The trouble for the league is, those connected to but not employed by the NFL have no such restrictions.