WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – The replacement officials in the NFL took center stage at the end of the Monday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.
On the final play of the game, with the Seahawks trailing 12-7, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a Hail Mary pass into the end zone. Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings and Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate both went up for the ball, and Jennings appeared to have an interception. Tate managed to get an arm on the ball before the two men hit the ground, but after Jennings initially caught the ball.
The referees ruled the play a touchdown after a few moments of debate and confusion.
Replay official Howard Slavin called for a review, and referee Wayne Elliott upheld the call on the field. Seattle won the game, 14-12.
The NFL has locked out the regular referees thus far in the 2012 season and has used replacement officials, mostly from the high school and Division III collegiate levels, in the first three weeks of the season.
Salary, pensions and other benefits have been sticking points in the negotiations between the referees union and the league.
After Monday night, some people have had enough of the whole situation.
The result angered Dave Antonelli, a longtime high school official who now works as a Yonkers Recreation Department supervisor. He blames the team owners for the situation.
“The owners are set in their ways. This comes down to saving chump change in a multibillion-dollar business,” Antonelli said. “The end of that game (Monday) night was so hard to watch, and I had just a pedestrian fan interest in the outcome.”
Antonelli expressed fear about the Eagles-Giants game Sunday night and had some strong words for the league.
“The owners’ product is being adversely affected and they won't budge,” Antonelli said. “The NFL is as close to unwatchable as it's going to get.”
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