NFL officiating: Roger Goodell’s decision
Roger Goodell could have overturned the verdict in the Green Bay-Seattle fiasco. The NFL commissioner is given broad power to protect the integrity of the game, and a blown call on the last play of the game would seem to qualify.
But no way would Goodell have been allowed to do so. Lost in all the drama over the NFL labor dispute with the officials is who is calling the league shots. It’s not Goodell. It’s the owners. The owners believe they can gain an upper hand on the officials not just financially, but administratively, too. Various media reports have leaked the idea that the owners are out to prove a point.
Reversing a result would have been virtually unprecedented in American professional sport. It would have been an historic decision by Goodell. It very well might have been the right decision — we’ll get to that later — but no way was Goodell going to make it. His bosses would not allow it.
To reverse the result would have been the ultimate mea culpa. The ultimate confession that the NFL indeed cannot conduct business without its locked-out officials. The NFL owners want no part of such surrender. It’s clear that some of the NFL owners are hawks, ready to make a stand.
Goodell is the administrator of the league, for the owners. He is given lots of latitude over players, too, much moreso than, say, baseball’s commissioner over baseball players. But Goodell’s latitude is granted by the owners.
So the notion of reversing the injustice in Seattle was moot. It was never going to happen.
But should it? Should Goodell, free of the politics of making his bosses happy, have given Green Bay the victory?
Here’s why it makes sense. Every game has bad calls. Every game is subject to the whims of officiating, be it the professional crews currently locked out or the ramshackle crews now masquerading in the NFL. But end of game calls are a little different.
Teams are given the chance to recover from almost all bad calls. Make a stop. Score a touchdown. Something.
But the last play of the game? How do you recover from that? Especially the last piece of the last play of the game? Golden Tate’s blatant offensive pass interference on that final play of Green Bay-Seattle was not the indiscretion that slew the Packers. In fact, Green Bay recovered from that ploy — M.D. Jennings intercepted the ball, even though teammate Sam Shields had been shoved out of the way.
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