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Packers’ loss ripples from Lambeau to White House
GREEN BAY, WIS. (AP) - Entire stadiums have booed them. The Patriots’ Bill Belichick grabbed one by the arm and the Redskins’ Kyle Shanahan was so hopping mad he followed one into the tunnel after the game.
But it took the team that Vince Lombardi built, playing in a “Monday Night Football” headliner, to put the NFL’s latest labor headache _ locked-out officials and their struggling, under-fire replacements _ front and center for the nation. Even President Barack Obama, a Bears fan slogging through a re-election campaign, weighed in Tuesday, saying, “We’ve got to get our refs back.”
Is this where the NFL’s lockout of its regular refs comes to an end? On a call that many believe cost the Packers and their Cheesehead-wearing followers a win at Seattle?
The NFL stood fast, giving no sign Tuesday that it was close to reaching a new labor pact with the referees’ union. But the outrage grew beyond NFL players (risking fines for speaking out) like Falcons tight end Anthony Gonzalez, who tweeted: “How do you miss that? Pop Warner refs would have gotten that right.”
LeBron James tweeted he was “sick” about it and Dirk Nowitzki said he was “not gonna watch another nfl game until real refs” return, while fans pretty much everywhere except Seattle concluded that Green Bay was robbed. Some threatened to boycott until order is restored and 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.
“I don’t really want to give them money if they’re going to be greedy about things,” said Packers fan Chris Kroening, who lives in Milwaukee. “It’s just not that fun to watch any more. I can find better things to do on a Sunday afternoon than watch refs make bad calls.”
For all their outrage, Kroening and Michael Mantuano, a Packers fan in Pine Bluff, Ark., both acknowledged that they would probably be watching on Sunday when Green Bay hosts the Saints.
“Yeah, I’m going to watch the game because I still love the Packers,” Mantuano said. “But it’s a bitter pill to swallow on Tuesday morning when it just clearly wasn’t the right call.”
It all started when Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s last-gasp pass into the end zone appeared to be hauled down by Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings while Seahawks receiver Golden Tate also got his hands on the ball.
Two replacement officials made contrasting signals _ one indicated a touchdown, the other an interception _ and they eventually ruled on the field that Tate had simultaneous possession with Jennings, which counts as a reception by the offensive player.
Touchdown, Seattle. Game over, Packers.
The NFL acknowledged Tuesday that Tate should have been flagged for offensive pass interference earlier on the play, which would have ended the game with a Packers victory. But league officials said the referee was correct that no indisputable visual evidence existed on a replay review to overturn the touchdown call.
The result of the game, 14-12 Seattle, was final.
That’s certainly not how the Packers saw it, insisting that Jennings clearly had intercepted the pass.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers called it “awful” in his postgame interview and he didn’t let up Tuesday. He called the league’s conclusion “garbage” and said the officials were responsible for a “phantom” pass interference call earlier against the Packers before having “zero communication” after the final play.
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