Was It Fixed Or Are They Just That Incompetent
Let's ask the question that they're asking in Vegas this morning?
Was the Packers/Seahawks game fixed or are the replacement referees just that incompetent?
The final call of the game is one that will go down in football infamy. That wasn't the only bad call made in the last couple of minutes though.
During their second last possession, a bogus pass interference call on the Packers gave the Seahawks 30 yards (when replays clearly showed the Seahawks receiver pushing off). This allowed the Seahawks to force the Packers to start deep in their own territory on their final possession.
Before that, a phantom roughing the quarterback call cost the Packers an interception deep in Seattle territory (which undoubtedly would have led to additional points that would have put the game out of reach).
For those keeping score at home, the Packers were 3 to 31/2 point favorites to win the game. If the final play had been called correctly, they would have won by five points. In other words, they would have covered the spread and sent people who bet on the Packers home as winners.
When side judge Lance Easley blew the final call, the effect was to cost the Packers the game and make winners out of those who bet on Seattle.
So, gross incompetence or something more?
Under normal circumstances, I'd suggest the NFL start checking the bank accounts of some of these officials to see if there were any large deposits of cash made recently. Candidly, the officiating last night made what goes on at WWE matches look legitimate. If you ever wanted to argue based on circumstantial evidence alone that "the fix had to be in", this would be the time.
There's also a strong argument to be made for "gross incompetence" however!
For example, who exactly is Lance Easley, the guy who made two of the really atrocious calls last night?
According to .me, Easley is a sales and marketing executive with Bank of America in Santa Maria, California. He is the president of the Los Padres Basketball Officials Association. That's not a typo, he's the president of a "basketball" association. He's also refereed some high school and junior college football. "Junior college" football!
Seriously, why was this guy on the field?
It's not necessarily that I fault the NFL for locking out the regular referees (although messing up a $9 billion industry over a $3 million pension dispute seems silly to me). I do however fault the NFL for locking out the referees and allowing games to proceed with incompetent replacements.
So where do we go from here?
First, Lance Easley - and a lot of the other jokers that the NFL has put on the field this season - should never be allowed to referee another NFL game.
Second, if the NFL doesn't have competent replacement referees, games should be delayed until they find some.
Third, while I'll give the replacement officials the benefit of the doubt and assume that they're incompetent instead of crooked, I still might be investigating to see if any of these bozos has made a large unexplained cash deposit into their bank account recently.