And now, the ballad of the the NFL ref strike, as performed by the replacement refs at the Seahawks-Packers game


117 Responses to “And now, the ballad of the the NFL ref strike, as performed by the replacement refs at the Seahawks-Packers game”

  1. One quick point:
    The referees aren’t on strike. They were locked out – There’s a big difference there.

  2. Also, the right call was that the touchdown didn’t happen. The refs eventually decided that a TD DID happen, thus giving the Seahawks the points they needed to win.

    The TD is the bad call, and the call stuck. It’s unclear in your article which is the bad call and which isn’t.

    In addition, it wasn’t Pete Carroll’s fault that he was doing interviews, the idiot refs called the game over and forgot about the extra points.

    Worth updating these things.

  3. ComradeQuestions says:

    Eh, I dunno, I’m not convinced that Jennings had possession as clearly as people are saying, particularly from this angle:

    • What that angle makes clear, and what is important is that Golden Tate, the Seahawks receiver, CLEARLY doesn’t have possession, as his arm flails out and he desperately tries to grab the ball out of Jennings’s grip. So the call is EITHER an interception or an incomplete. So whether Jennings had possession or not is moot – there is no scenario in which Tate has possession that makes sense with the video. Either way Packers should have won.

      • ComradeQuestions says:

        That isn’t so clear to me.  It looks like he had his arms wrapped around the ball in the same manner as Jennings when he hit the ground, which would make it simultaneous possession, and mean they get the TD.

        • Ian Savage says:

           You have got to be crossed eyed, on meth, and a seahhawks fan

          • Diogenes says:

            Glad to see you’re open-minded about it.

          • L_Mariachi says:

            “…But I repeat myself.”

          • graou says:

            Well, I don’t know anything about NFL nor the cities playing, thus I think i’m pretty fair, and what I see in this gif is the ball landed on the blue guy’s hand while the yellow one put his hand on it, then they fight for it as they fell down. Not sure if the yellow guy would have grabbed the ball if the blue guy’s hand was not there.
            Anyway, the big mistake in there is that you call that game football, as it should be called soccer (or anything else but football).

        • Focusing on one blown call misses the point. The proper refs blow calls sometimes — what happened in this game, and most of the other games so far this season, is bad calls from start to end. WIth one blown call you can say, okay, if it had gone the other way the outcome would have been such-and-such. With the current situation, you literally have no idea what the game would have been like if it had been called even 90% properly.

      • axlrosen says:

        How could it be incomplete – the ball never touches the ground.

        The issue, I believe, is whether Jennings has possession before Tate, or whether they get possession simultaneously. Tate doesn’t need to get it first, because tie goes to the receiver. So Tate doesn’t have to have possession in this clip we see – he could get it afterwards, simultaneously with Jennings. From this clip, I can see how the ruling on the field would stand (there’s too much doubt about whether Jennings getting possession *before* Tate, which would be required to overturn it).
        I can’t believe we’re talking about this on boingboing.

        • graywh says:

          The rule states that if the defender possesses the ball first and the receiver grabs it after, it’s not simultaneous possession.  Jennings gets both hands on the ball immediately; Tate is barely touching it until they hit the ground.  Interception.

          The NFL rulebook Article 3, Item 5: 
          Simultaneous Catch. If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control. 

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          I can’t believe we’re talking about this on boingboing.

          It’s like trying to moderate a post on Sumerian adverbs. I have no idea what anyone is talking about.

    • Ian Savage says:

       You must be kidding. Or you must be a LBJ fan.

    • Green Ghost says:

      I’ve seen several replays from different angles. Its clear to me Jennings has caught the ball and Tate has Jennings ARM and is touching the ball after the catch. If just touching the ball mean simultaneous possession, it will make for an interesting change in strategy by the defenses of the NFL!

  4. grimc says:

    This is about union-busting, pure and simple. It’s as much about union-busting as it was for Wisconsin teachers.

  5. Navin_Johnson says:

    as performed by the replacement refs scabs at the Seahawks-Packers game.


  6. gwailo_joe says:

    Terrible call.  The grasping, ungracious owners and the league High Command acting like wishy-washy dickwads is sadly no surprise.

    Labor is an expense to be whittled down at all costs and to hell with the consequences…

    Or as my friend put it last night: “This is Great!  Totally random penalties and blatant botched calls makes everything more exciting and mysterious.  Now football…is like boxing!”

  7. kartwaffles says:

    Welcome to the NFL.

  8. lafave says:

    The scabs made an earlier bad pass interference call that extended a Packers drive that resulted in a GB TD. In my eyes, the bad calls evened themselves out.  Although, I’m from Chicago and wish more bad things would happen to Green Bay regularly.

    I do agree with the general thesis. The scab refs are consistently horrible.

    • mcheshire says:

      True, but they also made two more bad calls, a roughing the passer call that negated a Seahawk’s lost fumble and a defensive pass interference( that was clearly offensive pass interference) call against G.B. that extended the Seahawk’s game winning drive. The “Refs” handed the game to Seattle.

      Gotta be honest here. I haven’t ever been this entertained by football, I say keep em around a little longer.

    •  I would say that the scab refs are *inconsistently* horrible, which is arguably worse.

  9. MarkV says:

    Do most boingboingers care about NFL games? I know I don’t. A google search shows previous mentions of “NFL” on boingboing were related to copyright, security abuses, etc., not games or league play or whatever.

    • Navin_Johnson says:

       I do. Go Bears!

    • gwailo_joe says:

      Yup.  Forty Niners I like.

    • groovyeyal says:

      I do. Cheese-head for life.

    • John Napsterista says:

       You’d be hard-pressed to find a full day’s worth of posts here which “most” boingboingers all care about, and that diversity in interest is one this blog’s greatest strengths.  Lots of boingers do actually care about sports in general, and/or the NFL in particular, and lots of others occasionally find that sort of thing of interest.  I dunno about you, but I’m specifically here to learn of things I didn’t know of before, I suspect many  –maybe even most –others are, too.

      • MarkV says:

        “You’d be hard-pressed to find a full day’s worth of posts here which “most” boingboingers all care about, ”

        While I’m sure that’s true, they’re in the same general areas, and boingboing nevertheless has a certain demographic. If we were listing characteristics of “happy mutants”–boingboing’s self-applied label–”watches the NFL” would not be among them. That is, boingboing is not and never has been an avenue for mainstream news like this. If you want that, you can go to, well, mainstream news. It’s bad enough that reddit has been flooded with this stuff.

    • LintMan says:

       I care about NFL football.  But beyond that, I think this situation is unique and interesting enough to be worthy of attention, even if it was for a sport I cared nothing about.

      What we have here is the number one sports league in the US, a multi-BILLION dollar industry, locking out its refs and bringing in non-professional refs from third tier colleges, high schools and “the lingerie league” to oversee the NFL games, to the detriment of the players, the fans, the teams, and the very reputation of the league itself.  And for what?  $3.3 million dollars in benefits for the refs.  Total.

      It’s just insanity.

      • mappo says:

        It’s not insanity, it’s Business Management 101.  The NFL has realized that you, the fan/consumer, are going to buy their product no matter what, so why should they spend more money to produce it than is necessary?

        If you’re still watching, then they’re right.

        • LintMan says:

           Well, Business Management 101 is rather short-sighted, then.  In the long term this will cost the NFL fans and popularity.  But more critically, it’s starting to look like the poorly run games are endangering player’s health: more on-field fights and roughing not being “handled” by the refs, illegal hits not getting called, etc.  The last few years, the NFL has been desperately trying to appear like it really cares about player health because it’s only a matter of time before there’s a class action suit by ex-players over concussions and other long-term negative impacts on their health.  Being too cheap to spend a relative pittance on the better refs to keep the game under control and protect the players will look really bad in court.

        • Navin_Johnson says:

           Watching has little to do with it. Not buying tickets maybe, but most fans are clueless on these issues. It’s really the players that should be taking action in solidarity. They have the most to lose, particularly from getting hurt by another player who knows the refs won’t catch some excessive hits etc.

          • It is unfortunate, then, that the players signed a collective bargaining agreement just last year that prevents them from engaging in precisely this form of solidarity of labor action.

            What I believe all fans can do in lieu of not watching and not going to the games (which is still admittedly the best form of signalling to the owners) is to boycott the advertisers of the NFL and its broadcast partners.

            That action would have an immediate and powerful signalling effect, almost as strong as the boycott of the games themselves.

          • Navin_Johnson says:

            Really, I hadn’t heard that. I have a hard time believing that tbh.

            So you’re suggesting that the players contract somehow forbids them from doing anything. Can you source that? I’d like to see it. Thanks.

        • Donald Petersen says:

          You got a point there, mappo.  I’m a native San Diegan, and there’s never been much of a percentage in being a pro-sports fan of any league in SD, at least not since the Sockers packed it in about sixteen years ago.  Our climate and lifestyle makes us the ultimate fair-weather fans: during those rare occasions when the Padres or Chargers make it to postseason play, we might pay halfhearted attention, but the rest of the time we’d rather go outside and play a pickup game ourselves.  

          Still, I consciously gave up on MLB during the 1994-95 strike and never looked back.  I haven’t purchased gas from an Exxon or Mobil station since the botched cleanup of the Exxon Valdez spill 23 years ago (not that my personal embargo has made any difference to the company).  I bailed on Facebook several privacy scandals ago, despite continuing familial pressure to get over myself and come back to FB.  And though I’ve never been an NFL fan, this story interests me enough to pipe up and mention that due to things like this, I never will become an NFL fan.  The Chargers often threaten to leave San Diego if they don’t get a new stadium.  I’d tell ‘em to not let the door hit ‘em where the Good Lord split ‘em.

          I kinda like watching football, but the NFL has been too corrupt to interest me for decades.  The NCAA has befouled itself almost beyond redemption by now, too.  For all I know, even high school football is more tainted than I suspect.  But what can anyone do?  It’s easy for me to give up on the NFL; they never made any real money off me anyway.  What kind of scandal will it take before the NFL turns off a sufficient number of actual game-attending, memorabilia-purchasing, jersey-wearing, satellite-package-buying profitable fans to make a negative impact on their bottom line?

          We’re nowhere near that point, I bet.

      • MarkV says:

        What is the situation and how is it unique and interesting?

        • lintman says:

          Well, I stated it above in that same post, right after that sentence.  TL;DR: vast megacorporate parsimony and arrogance, mainly to its own detriment, on a very public stage. 

          OK, that’s sadly not all that unique, but I think it is interesting/notable and certainly well within Boing Boing’s purview.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:


    • Green Ghost says:

       This isn’t just about football. Its a major event in American history, like the assassination of a president or a declaration of armed conflict/police action. I think this rises to the level of Boingboing coverage! A turning point in history. And yes, one can be a football fan and a boingboinger!

      • MarkV says:

        “Its a major event in American history, like the assassination of a president or a declaration of armed conflict/police action.”
        Please tell me this is sarcasm. If not, I must retreat to seclusion and weep.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          I must retreat to seclusion and weep.

          That might be a good option.

        • bzishi says:

          Green Bay just lost a game due to a bad call. If the game was against the Lions, Bears, or Vikings, then the Wisconsin National Guard would be on the march. In fact this is why the Lions always play so bad — Wisconsin is just looking for the excuse to annex the Upper Peninsula.

    • mcheshire says:

      E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles. Eagle’s fans can even spell.

  10. MG says:

    It’s worth noting that there was an entire game leading up to that play and many other horrible calls. Claiming that this one call “gave the game away to seattle” or “cost the packers the victory” is moronic and short sighted.

    • retrojoe says:

      I watched that game and there were a lot of bad calls. However, none of them came under as much review and scrutiny as this one. None of them were so universally assigned one way by sportscasters/fans/players while the refs decided to go another.

      This isn’t the one and only mistake they’ve made. It’s the most egregious and the straw that broke the camel’s back. It would be moronic and short sighted to think that all bad calls are equal.

    • LintMan says:

      Yeah, there were lots of bad calls in that game (and in many many other games), and all of those can contribute to one team winning or losing a game, but for those, you could always at least say that the other team had some amount of time afterwards to try to compensate and overcome the bad call.

      In this case, on this one critical final play of the game, the refs (1) failed to call the blatant offensive pass interference by Seahawks receiver Tate, then (2) screwed up the call on the interception, and then (3) screwed it up again on the replay review.  The refs had three chances to get it right and blew all three.  The Packers had no chance to compensate or overcome that.

      It was the refs and their the bad call (and non-call), and not the actual play on the field, that literally decided the winner of this game.

  11. mmrtnt says:

    Did you folks get permission from the NFL to include those clips?

    Because, as we are all warned by a stern voice during every game, “This telecast is copyrighted by the NFL for the private use of our audience. Any other use of this telecast or of any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game without the NFL’s consent, is prohibited.”


  12. Chuck says:

    I’m seriously thinking this might be the year that the Piggers win it all.

  13. DoctorDJ says:

    As a life-long Packer fan (and long time BoingBoinger to boot) I find no enjoyment in watching a contest in which the rules are not those I (and millions like me) understand, and are liable to change from play to play.
    I am voting with my TV clicker and am turning off the NFL (including my beloved Packers) until the “real refs” are back. I’m reclaiming my Sundays!

    • Donald Petersen says:

      I smile when I think of the productivity our species could attain if Sundays were universally reclaimed from pro sports and churchin’.

      Then again, I spent last Sunday finishing Mass Effect 3, so what do I know.

  14. Tom Rombouts says:

    Hi -

    Sure, it is odd for American Football to be featured here on boingboing, but as some others have pointed out this is not really a football story, but yet another attempt by a group of large corporations (each NFL team is worth roughly a billion dollars or more) to further rollback what few benefits American workers might still have.  As far as costs, I think the NFL gets many billions a year in TV money, yet as I recall this issue with the officials is over roughly five _million_ a year, almost a rounding error in scope.

    Here is an article from today’s L.A. Times focusing on the corporate / economic angle of the dispute:,0,2570919.column

    - Tom, Redondo Beach, California

  15. One more thing:
    It doesn’t matter who caught the ball; the play should’ve been negated by the obvious offensive pass interference committed by Tate. Had that penalty been called (and the NFL today admitted it should’ve been: ), the game would’ve ended, and the completion/interception controversy would moot.

  16. RedShirt77 says:

    Hey Green Bay, threaten not to show at the next game…  NFL will fold and end the lockout in about 20 minutes.  The refs pretty much just want a few pennies compared to what everyone else gets.

    Oh wait, you cant do that because money is more important than the game.

    Jeez, I guess we should all complain on the internet.

    • mccrum says:

      Given that tickets have already been sold and the Owners have their money, I don’t think the Owners would give a damn.

      But boy, that would be a pretty amazing sight to see two hundred guys standing around an empty stadium playing for security and the guys that sell hot dogs…

    • Bersl says:

      The Packers not showing up next week is probably our only chance to win.

    • The real problem is that as stated up above, the players have already signed a collective bargaining agreement that includes a clause that prohibits them from striking in solidarity with the refs. In the movie industry we had similar clauses in our contracts when the writers struck.

      They may seem like inconsequential things when the contracts are negotiated and everyone is scared to lose their pension, but I guarantee if they weren’t there various industries could bring management to their knees in seconds. It’s a shrewd move by management – get them to concede what appears to be a minor clause in exchange for not fighting on perceived big things like health care and pay scales, profit later when the players are helpless to assist the refs.

  17. c b says:

    As a Seahawks fan, I’ll totally sympathize with GB fans on this one – I’d be pretty bummed if it went the other way. But I’ve got beef with the this post. Quite a few factual errors as pointed out above, but the tone is what gets me – like the suggestion that somehow it was more egregious because the ‘Hawks beat the almighty Packers. Or that these things never happen when the “real” refs are involved.

  18. pox says:

    It’s not exactly clear that it was a bad call. This angle shows both players holding the ball, but the Seattle player’s both feet are down, inbounds, while the Green Bay player is still in the air. For Jennings to be credited with an interception, I believe he’d have to have control of the ball and his feet inbounds. That makes a strong case for at least simultaneous possession, if not an outright reception, which would favor the offense. Also, the booth review was done by a full-time NFL employee, not a replacement ref. He had the power to reverse the call and did not. They did miss calling offensive pass interference, and that was a legitimate mistake, IMO, but PI was a *very* flexible concept throughout the game. That non-call was not review-able.

    • sweetcraspy says:

       My understanding is that the booth official does not have the authority to challenge the refs, but can only decide very specific objective facts of the play, such as whether the player went down in bounds or not.

      • pox says:

        Or who had possession? I’m no expert. While I’m a Hawks fan, I get no joy out of winning with an asterisk. It’s a shame the whole first half will be forgotten, when the Seattle defense was shoving Green Bay all over the effin field. That did give me joy. It’s the first season I’ve felt optimistic in a long time, so it’s no fun to see it marred.

        • pox says:

          Also, I was with some people doing a thing, and we had the game on, muted. After the missed pass at 2:00, we *turned it off*. “Oh well, @#$! Hawks are back to normal.” Talked some more, packed up my stuff, went to my car, THEN heard the neighbors cheer. Turned on the radio and was all, “WTF?”

        • sweetcraspy says:

           I’m not an expert either, I’m relying on SA’s Sports Argument Stadium thread.  The jist of the discussion was that the judgment call on the field was “dual possession”.  The only thing the booth could do in this situation was determine whether the ball was caught (i.e did it touch the ground for a split second before some one had possession), whether the catch happened in bounds, and whether any obscure rules affect the play as it was called.  Who had possession is in the purview of the field refs.

          • pox says:

            Thank you. In that case, I shall cling to the photo above, choose to believe it was dual possession, and try to forget the pass interference.

      • I’ve heard many fans and paid commentators making this (or a similar) point.
        My response has and will continue to be “so what?” 

        The NFL should simply change the rules of the game (even if it’s only during the lockout) so that the booth officials have the full authority to exercise judgment in support or in contradiction of the referee and other on-field officials.

        It’s only the NFL’s rulebook that prevents the booth official from doing so today, not some law or regulation, so it can easily and readily be changed (and then changed back once the lockout has concluded.)

  19. Jeremy Powers says:

    As anyone in Seattle will tell you, the Seahawks are no strangers to bad officiating.

  20. BrianP says:

    To be fair to Pete Carroll, at the end of the game he hadn’t seen the replay of the videos like we all had. The only thing he had to go one was refs calls and replay decision. Likewise, he like a lot of people probably didn’t realize the game wasn’t quite over yet.

    I’m surprised Green Bay actually came back out on the the field. That was a classy move, but I kind of wish they hadn’t in protest.

  21. As a guy from Europe I have no idea what’s this post about.

    • mccrum says:

      Think of Henry’s uncalled handball against Ireland:  It’s like that but some officials can watch a replay of only the goal itself, not the handball that everyone else saw.

      That should give you a good idea.

    • pox says:

      As I understand it, different countries sometimes have different “sports.” Whatever the details of the sports, they serve the same function in every country: to divide people into simulated tribes and give them proxies to fight each other in a way that avoids permanent damage. This is one of those, except the fairness of the conditions are in dispute, which affected the outcome of the battle. One tribe feels robbed of a rightful victory, while the other tribe wants to enjoy the victory, but will enjoy it less because the conditions were unreliable. The possible unfairness is the result of a labor dispute. (Surely that’s a familiar concept to a European fellow.) Ironically, some of the members of the defeated tribe have historically been aggressive in suppressing organized labor, and they now feel the need to publicly state support for organized labor in regards to their tribe’s defeat. I hope this helps clear it up.

      • mccrum says:

        I’m in the States and this certainly makes a lot more sense than what I’ve seen on ESPN…

      • MarkV says:

        This theory presupposes that humans possesses an innate and inalienable blood lust that must be sublimated lest actual violence occur. Interesting. 

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Whatever the details of the sports, they serve the same function in every country: to divide people into simulated tribes and give them proxies to fight each other in a way that avoids permanent damage.

        It appears to be universal.

      • Nicholas Gates says:

        Actually, Wisconsin has historically been *pro* Union.  Milwaukee–my town–had Socialist mayors for about half a century.  It’s only been lately with Mr Walker where that’s been reversed.  

  22. I did not understand a single word you wrote. What language is that ?!?

  23. Green Ghost says:

    In the future, I think we will all remember where we were when “THE CALL” was made. And what junk food we were eating off our chest in the recliner. 

  24. Nicholas Gates says:

    Hats off to Seattle.  They’re a good team, and Wisconsinites like me should find no shame in a fair loss to them.  There was indeed the rest of the game, which was close the whole way.  But still. Dude.

    Also, what hasn’t been brought up is how seriously devoted we Wisconsinites are to the Packers.  They’re sort of our version of the Queen, if the Queen was also the Statue of Liberty, who was cradling the Baby Jesus.  Suicides in Wisconsin are positively correlated to Packers losses the previous week.  Basically, the Packers *are* Wisconsin.  This call was hardest for us here, because we are taking it super personally.

  25. EH says:

    Let’s see how much abuse NFL fans will take. How bad can the game be made before people stop watching?

    • Gyrofrog says:

       Back in ’87, didn’t they bring in pro wrestlers as scab players? I can’t remember people’s reactions, other than Bloom County made fun of it.  That season was also the last time I bet on a football game; someone talked me into squares and I came out $20 wiser.

  26. bolivar13 says:

    The thing all these articles about how stupid the lockout is seem to ignore is that the major hangup in the negotiations between the NFL and the ref’s union is that the NFL wants to add more teams of referees so that they can remove the referees who perform poorly during the season.
    It’s not the money. Truly. It’s not the money. That should seem obvious.
    The irony here about poorly performing referees makes for a pretty interesting story but no one seems to want to talk about that, only the money. It’s especially noteworthy that Scott Walker is supporting the referees union given the parallels…

    That said, the NFL needs to just give it up and end the lockout already, this is just getting ridiculous. 

    • DMStone says:

      Yep. Bad refs are bad and more accountability is needed. I hope the NHL (if they every play again) switch to the ref team system with regular performance assessment. The way it is now there is often indecision between the different refs on who is to call what because they don’t regularly work together.

  27. The greatest irony is that Boeing’s SPEEA (new hire) engineers are being offered the same kind of 401K pension package as the NFL referees. After the Great Recession?  Yeah, let’s throw the newbie engineers and NFL referees under the bus!  ‘Effin’ scabs! 

    And why are the NFL players crossing the picket line?  ‘Effin’ scabs!  The only redemption might be to prove the case for why NFL owners, Boeing, and scabs are all dumb beeves.

  28. Here is the problem, the average fan does not know the rules.  The pass is completed, as you know because of the change made to the reception rule because of Calvin Johnson, stay with me here, that states, THE RECEPTION IS NOT FINISHED UNTIL THE PLAYER HITS THE GROUND AND MAINTAINS POSSESSION.  tHINK ABOUT THAT FOR A MINUTE.  Who cares if Jennings had it in the air, when they hit the ground and shortly there after, who had possession?  They both did.  This is one reason why from DAY 1 of football instructions they tell you to knock it down, Jennings went for the interception and got burned, bet he knocks it down nexttime

  29. Eric Franklin says:

    That “Sixteen of twenty challenges were reversed” is VERY misleading – coaches won’t challenge a call unless they think it is likely to be reversed.

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