What an odd morning to wake up a Packers fan. I love it when our team wins, but after last night’s officiating debacle, even the sweet taste of victory has been soured. Undoubtedly, the zebras proved the 12th man, stealing near certain victory from the Lions on at least three questionable calls that reversed the fortune of the game.
The officials, again, guided the outcome of a game.
And while it helped my team win, the game itself has been so tainted by poor officiating that I can no longer watch it.
I felt this way last year when Clay Mathews was called repeatedly for illegal hits to the quarterback — hits that were tame compared to the QB poundings I’ve observed for most of my football-loving life. At least I understood the intent of the rule — I only disagreed with these examples. But today, there are no lessons to be learned. As fans, we don’t know what the heck is going on.
What’s pass interference? Remember Saints player TommyLee Lewis getting obliterated by Nicekll Robey-Coleman in last year’s NFC Championship game? That non-call likely cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl. Yet, since then, I’ve watched contact the equivalent of blowing in one’s ear draw a flag.
And the thing about pass interference calls is, they’re big penalties! There is nearly never a small pass interference. They usually result in huge gains of yardage and first downs.
For the Packers to win last night, it took two phantom hands-to-the-face penalties that changed possession of the ball. In the first case, the Pack certainly would have had to punt the ball, being 3rd and long deep in their own territory. And in the second, either my team would have had to settle for a field goal (unlikely; the clock was running low) or go for it on 4th and long.
I think every fan could lament moments when the calls did not go their teams way, but it’s reached the point with the NFL that I find the game unwatchable and not worth my time. I just wonder, how much more can the game’s fans endure? It’s not cheap — all that money spent on tickets, travel, and concessions. And for what? To watch a game where the outcome no longer depends on a team’s plan and preparation? (Credit to the Lions — they came to Lambeau to play and, despite all their preparation, were completely hosed. And don’t give me that “They should have converted their field goals into touchdowns,” baloney. A game’s outcome can be determined by as little as one point — the ref’s practically cost the Lions ten.)
Pro sports of all types, I think, are due for a fall. But if the NFL does fix what ails them immediately, they’re going to be the first to go.