Politicians on local, national level weigh in on controversial Packers' call
GREEN BAY -- A controversial call deciding Monday night's Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks game was the talk of the country Tuesday, and the "replacement referees" were under fire, with some going as far as to call for a boycott of the NFL. A "lockout" of current NFL refs is ongoing, and the NFL said Tuesday it supports the "replacement refs'" decision not to overturn the on-field ruling Monday night. In the wake of the controversy, politicians on the local and national level weighed in on the campaign trail and via social media.
The NFL hired "replacement refs" after talks broke down between the NFL and the referees union during contract negotiations.
In Monday's game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, Seattle faced a 4th-and-10 from the Green Bay 24 with eight seconds remaining in the game.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a pass into the end zone. Several players, including Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings, jumped into the air in an attempt to catch the ball.
While the ball is in the air, Tate can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the ground. This should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended the game. It was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay.
When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings had possession of the ball. Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the offensive player. The result of the play was a touchdown.
Replay Official Howard Slavin stopped the game for an instant replay review. The aspects of the play that were reviewable included if the ball hit the ground and who had possession of the ball. In the end zone, a ruling of a simultaneous catch is reviewable. That is not the case in the field of play, only in the end zone.
Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood.
Former president Bill Clinton says the refs were wrong.
"I would not have called that last play the way they did in that Seattle-Green Bay game last night. The Packers will wake up this morning and just sort of shake their head and say, `We should have won by two touchdowns,'" Clinton said.
Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan began a campaign appearance in Ohio Tuesday with an exasperation that morphed into a critique of President Barack Obama.
"Did you guys watch that Packers' game last night? I mean -- give me a break. It is time to get the real refs. Do you know what? It reminds me of President Obama and the economy. If you can't get it right, it's time to get out," Ryan said.
President Obama sounded a note of political unity with a rare personal tweet saying "NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs' lockout is settled soon."
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker campaigned in North Carolina Tuesday, but tweeted Tuesday morning: "After catching a few hours of sleep, the #Packers game is still just as painful." Gov. Walker added the hashtag "Return the real refs."
Gov. Walker later spoke with FOX6 News from North Carolina -- providing his take on the game.
"I think everyone outside of Seattle realized that was a blown call. It was so obvious. It wasn't just the Packers game, but a lot of people said until it costs somebody a game it may not be enough. Well -- it cost the Packers a game and most of us are ready to get the refs back," Gov. Walker said.
The Packers/Seahawks game got political when Gov. Walker's tweet brought an avalanche of criticism from liberals who tweeted: "I guess you support unions now huh?" and "Here's what hiring low-wage scabs gets you, idiot."
Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate says the controversy these "replacement refs" are drawing brings attention to the issue of unions in light of Act 10's passage last year in Wisconsin -- the law that effectively stripped most public unions of their rights to collectively bargain. A Dane County judge recently declared parts of that law unconstitutional, and the law is currently under an appeal from the state.
"I think some people from my side of the aisle might say 'hey doesn't this mean we should take a look' and 'union jobs are the way to go' and 'people are more qualified and have a better way of life and make more money and they may make better calls.' Same thing could be said for teachers in classrooms," Tate said.
"I've never been anti union. I've only been pro taxpayer. When it was about public sector employees, it was about putting the power back in the hands of taxpayers. I've always worked well with private sector unions in economic development. In this case, we need the refs back, union or non union, they need to be there," Gov. Walker said.
FOX6 News asked Gov. Walker Tuesday if he would call NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. He said probably not, because no amount of complaining from politicians will change the results of Monday night's game. The NFL has said the decision is final.
Democratic state Senator Jon Erpenbach Tuesday tweeted: "Head to the phones" and then sent out NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's office phone number -- encouraging fans to call and complain.
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