Monday night's game-ending replacement ref fiasco looked pretty bad to the casual viewer: it seemed like Seattle receiver Golden Tate shoved over a Green Bay defender before not really catching the winning "touchdown." We wondered if perhaps there was more to the call than met the eye, so we e-mailed a currently locked out ref for comment. His answer: no.
"There was a huge offensive pass interference that should have been called by the Side Judge or Head Lineman — or both," he wrote. "Absolutely no way around that. It was as big and obvious as they get. The official was watching the ball in the air rather than watching the players, or he couldn’t possibly not have seen it. Rookie mistake. And of course, the Green Bay player caught the ball first, so he gets it. It was not a simultaneous catch."
As someone who's no doubt been on the receiving end of fan and player anger, does he have some small amount of sympathy for the fill-ins? Also an emphatic no:
"I’m not very forgiving about officials who know they don’t know the rules and know they aren’t qualified to be working at that level. They have embarrassed themselves and officials at all levels in all sports. If there is one overriding ingredient of an official it is 'integrity.' They showed no integrity whatsoever by taking a job they knew they weren’t even close to being qualified to do. And they continue to go out there each week and prove it all over again. My advice to them is to look in the mirror and admit to themselves they aren’t capable of doing this job. No one has forced them to go out there. They took a job that they knew they weren’t qualified for. I have no sympathy for that. That is the antithesis of integrity."
CORRECTION: The NFL referees have been locked out. They are not on strike.