Thursday, April 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Replacement refs' call in Packers-Seahawks sets off angry squall

NEW YORK — The NFL put its stamp of approval on the still-smoldering outcome of Monday night's Green Bay-Seattle game:

Wrong call.

Right review.

Wrong team still wins.

Seahawks 14, Packers 12.

With frustration about replacement officials mounting among coaches, players and fans, an officiating mistake decided the outcome of a game on the prominent stage of Monday Night Football.

The NFL said Tuesday that Seattle's last-second touchdown pass should not have counted because receiver Golden Tate should have been called for pass interference, ending the game with Green Bay winning. Officials haltingly ruled it a touchdown, and penalties are not reviewable.

That left it to whether Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings both had possession of the ball. While two replacement officials converged on the play, one seemed to rule it an interception but quickly changed it to a touchdown after side judge Lance Easley raced in and lifted his arms to signal a simultaneous reception and score. Easley reportedly had never worked above the NCAA's Division III level before becoming a replacement during the NFL officials' lockout.

Within minutes, the negative reaction went nuclear as fans, gamblers, players, columnists, commentators, celebrities, and politicians expressed anger.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, normally soft-spoken, lashed out on his radio show Tuesday: "First of all, I've got to do something that the NFL is not going to do: I have to apologize to the fans."

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney joined the debate about what Packers fans are calling the "Inaccurate Reception."

Obama tweeted: "NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs' lockout is settled soon."

Romney said: "I sure would like to see some experienced referees, with NFL experience, come back on to the NFL playing fields."

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who was elected largely on an anti-union stance, advocated for a settlement with the officials' union.

Fans' fascination with the finish was evident in the number who stayed with ESPN to watch Sportscenter highlights: 6.5 million viewers, the most for the full-length show since records started being kept in 1990.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made no apologies Tuesday, saying, "The league backed it up and game over. We win. Obviously they missed the push in the battle for the ball — but that stuff goes on all the time."

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith posted a statement to members saying the lockout "jeopardizes your health and safety."

"This is NOT the league we're supposed to represent," Saints quarterback Drew Brees wrote on Twitter. "Ironic that our league punishes those based on conduct detrimental. Whose CONDUCT is DETRIMENTAL now?"

Unable to reach a new collective bargaining agreement with officials, the league opened the season with replacements, most with experience only in lower levels of college football. The league and NFL Referees Association have been at odds over salaries, pensions and non-economic issues. The referees want an annual contribution of $38,500 per official to their pension plan, which the NFL considers too generous for part-time employees.

The officials' union said it would cost $3.2 million annually to meet all of the demands, a fraction of the NFL's $9 billion in annual revenue.

The lockout was sought and is now being enforced by the owners, some of them hard-line, deep-pocketed businessmen with limited NFL roots and an earned taste for having things their own way, whatever the cost.

Some owners now want a deal soon, because they are troubled by the damage caused by botched call after botched call. Other owners, it is thought, might dig in, fearful that if the NFL makes a deal in the coming days, it will appear that commissioner Roger Goodell surrendered to public pressure. During the negotiations, some owners have referred to the regular officials, who had long been convinced that the failure of replacements would swing leverage their way, as "holding the league hostage" to their demands.

Talks had resumed over the weekend; the New York Times reported that after Tuesday's talks owners were resistant to more compromise.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he missed the end of the game: "I cut it off about halftime. I just read a little note in the paper that the Seahawks pulled it out."

Vegas oddsmakers said $300 million or more changed hands worldwide on Monday's call. The Glantz-Culver line opened favoring the Packers by 4½.

ESPN's game analyst and former Bucs coach Jon Gruden termed Monday's officiating "tragic" and "comical."

Fear of another botched call is spreading quickly.

"Every player in this league worries about it," Giants defensive captain Justin Tuck said. "I know players are on eggshells and the replacement referees are on eggshells because they know that everything that they say, whether it's right or wrong, is going to be scrutinized."

Some Packers fans threatened to boycott, with a call for an "Occupy Lambeau" protest movement before Sunday's game against the Saints. Others tried to pull the plug on their NFL satellite television packages, only to be told that they can't cancel in the middle of the season.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of how much opposition exists to the call? Bears fans — such as Obama — expressed sympathy for the Packers. "I actually feel bad for the Packers,'" said Greg Michalski of Oak Lawn, Ill. "We always want the Packers to lose, but for the first time in my life I was hoping there was a rule that could overturn that call."

Comments
Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a first-round fit for the Bucs?

Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a first-round fit for the Bucs?

Minkah FitzpatrickPosition: SafetyCollege: AlabamaHeight/Weight: 6-1, 201Draft projection: First roundWhy Fitzpatrick makes sense for the BucsOne of the Bucs' biggest needs is to improve their secondary. Fitzpatrick is a playmaker, arguably the best ...
Published: 04/17/18
Jameis Winston set to make $21 million in 2019 as Bucs pick up his option

Jameis Winston set to make $21 million in 2019 as Bucs pick up his option

TAMPA — Jameis Winston is headed for a big pay day after this season, whether he gets a contract extension or not.The Bucs on Tuesday picked up the fifth-year option on Winston's rookie contract worth $20.9 million for 2019. The deal is not gua...
Published: 04/17/18
Get to know potential Bucs NFL draft target Vita Vea of Washington

Get to know potential Bucs NFL draft target Vita Vea of Washington

As next week's NFL draft nears, Bucs fans might want to learn a little more about a potential target at No. 7: Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.The 6-foot-4, 347-pound monster moves very well for someone his size and could be an intriguing option...
Published: 04/17/18
DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were in perfect harmony on Day 1

DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were in perfect harmony on Day 1

TAMPA — DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were finally on the same page.For the first day of the offseason workout program, anyway.Jackson, 31, is coming off one of the worst seasons of his 10-year career with 50 catches for only 668 yards and ...
Published: 04/16/18
Jameis Winston says he has still not been interviewed in NFL probe

Jameis Winston says he has still not been interviewed in NFL probe

TAMPA — Jameis Winston was excited to be back with his teammates at One Buc Place Monday beginning the first phase of  the off-season workout program."It means everything, because it's back to football," Winston said. "It's back to that te...
Published: 04/16/18
Bucs’ Ali Marpet ready for transition to left guard

Bucs’ Ali Marpet ready for transition to left guard

Ali Marpet is on the move again, but says not to worry about his transition to left guard — his fourth offensive line position in five years — for the 2018 season."Moving from right to left is less of a transition from guard to center," M...
Published: 04/16/18
Report: Bucs’ Demar Dotson to miss summer after knee surgery

Report: Bucs’ Demar Dotson to miss summer after knee surgery

Add offensive tackle to the positions where the Bucs have a question mark, less than two weeks before the NFL draft.Starting right tackle Demar Dotson, who missed the final five games of last season with a knee injury, had surgery this past week to r...
Published: 04/15/18
How Penn State RB Saquon Barkley would ignite the Bucs offense … if only they could draft him

How Penn State RB Saquon Barkley would ignite the Bucs offense … if only they could draft him

Saquon BarkleyPosition: Running backCollege: Penn StateHeight/weight: 6-3, 233Draft projection: First roundWhy he would make sense for the Bucs: Barkley is arguably the best overall player in the draft. Despite his exceptional size, he ran a 4.41 in ...
Published: 04/14/18
Bucs’ Mike Evans donates $10,000 to childhood friend’s recovery

Bucs’ Mike Evans donates $10,000 to childhood friend’s recovery

As a Texas man fights for his life after an accidental shooting on Easter Sunday, Bucs receiver Mike Evans has stepped up to help his childhood friend, donating $10,000 to a GoFundMe account for Devyn Holmes.Holmes and two other people were in a park...
Published: 04/14/18
Why the Bucs’ big improvement could come from players already on the roster

Why the Bucs’ big improvement could come from players already on the roster

TAMPA —The NFL draft still is a few weeks away, and every team is hoping to harvest players who can be the difference on a winner.But the biggest improvement may come from players entering their second or third seasons. Rookies are great, but p...
Published: 04/14/18