By Doug Russell Special to Published Sep 26, 2012 at 3:00 PM

As we approach 48 hours after "it" happened, the anger has not subsided. Even if, as has been widely reported Wednesday that the regular officials could be back as early as this Sunday, the damage has already been done. 

And for what? A few pennies? Posturing? So as to not appear weak? Oh, the absurdity of it all. Irrespective of detente that is almost literally a day late and a couple of dollars short, the anger that we all have has not come close to subsiding.

Certainly not for Packers fans, not for NFL alumni, not for anyone within the walls of 1265 Lombardi Ave., and not for even the most reserved voices of the game.

"This is wrong," announcer Mike Tirico said during Monday night's postgame telecast, perhaps expressing the only actual opinion he has ever had during his 21 years at ESPN. "I don't feel good about this."

Commentator Jon Gruden added, "I don't like the way this game finished. I have a bad taste in my mouth."

Keep in mind that Gruden otherwise cannot bring himself to criticize any player, on any team, under any circumstances.

"You know the thing I love about Marshall Newhouse? When he’s getting beaten like a rented mule and A-Rodg gets flung two ways to Wednesday, he’s right there helping his quarterback turn his helmet back around the right way! I love that guy!"

The basic premise is simple. What we all witnessed Monday night in Seattle was an abomination; perhaps the single most disputed regular season play in the 92-year history of the NFL because of the already under-the-microscope nature of the ongoing referees dispute. The fact that the play was incorrectly called on the field was bad. That it was yet another gaffe by incompetent officials on loan from God-knows-where made it infuriating.

That the call was not overturned on replay threatens the very core of the National Football League.

Oh, the NFL isn't going to fold up shop, and there may have been some flailing and tepid attempt at some type of ultimately futile boycott, but what the league stands for has already been compromised beyond any of our wildest imaginations. All for nothing more than walking around pocket change for billionaire owners and the satisfaction of screwing employees out of retirement benefits they had previously bargained for.


"This is affecting the competitive landscape of the NFL," Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young said Monday night on the ESPN post-game show. "And now it's not only a problem, it's an emergency situation."

Predictably, however, the league itself, on Tuesday played Baghdad Bob with the collective intelligence of all of us; not only upholding the play, but agreeing with the call itself, absent of a throwaway line about offensive pass interference.

The league's insipid explanation read in part:

When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both (Seattle's Golden) Tate and (Packers defensive back M.D.) 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. The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review.

No indisputable evidence to overturn the call on the field? Let that one sink in for a moment, because you just got told an outright untruth for the sake of the NFL not wanting to admit it was wrong – either to you or to the locked out officials.

But while those 10 words spelled the death knell for the Packers Monday night, they signaled that the NFL has absolutely no concern for honesty, morals, principles or fair play.

"The legitimacy of the league is at stake," legendary Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King tweeted late Monday night.

"The NFL obviously cares more about saving some money than having the integrity of the game diminished," an incensed Aaron Rodgers said on his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN. "Let's remember who we're dealing with. We're dealing with an NFL that locked out the players and said we're going to stand firm in our position.

"This is the NFL who locked the players out and basically said to cities like Green Bay," Rodgers continued, "who much of our economy out here relies on those 10 home games and the revenue that's generated from the hundreds of thousands of people who come through each week to either watch the game or be around the stadium. This is an NFL who gambled on some low-level referees, including the guy who makes the most important call last night, who's never had any professional experience."

Yes, not only has the NFL been defiling its own product during this most bizarre and petty power play, it has been flat-out lying about the credentials of its officials.

When FOX's Mike Pereira revealed that replacement official Craig Ochoa was a reject from the Lingerie Football League and did not posses the BCS experience the NFL claimed, the league disputed its former Vice President of Officiating's claims. But why would Pereira lie? He certainly had no reason to. After the "Fail Mary" as it has been dubbed, the bra and panties league confirmed our worst fears.

"Due to several on-field occurrences of incompetent officiating, we chose to part ways with a crew which apparently is now officiating in the NFL," Lingerie League commissioner Mitch Mortaza said in a statement late Monday night. "We have a lot of respect for our officials but we felt the officiating was not in line with our expectations.

"We have not made public comment to date because we felt it was not our place to do so. However in light of tonight's event, we felt it was only fair that NFL fans knew the truth as to who are officiating these games."

Adding to the sheer and mind-boggling incompetence of these clowns comes a study conducted by Chase Stuart of, taken after Week 2:

This week, 14 of the 16 home teams won, the first time 14 home teams have won in a week since the league expanded to 32 teams. So far this season, there have been 231 penalties against visiting teams and only 188 penalties against the hosts. That ratio — road teams having to deal with 23 percent more penalties — is far out of line with historical data, which informs us that road teams had 7 percent more penalties enforced against them than home teams from 2000 to 2011.

That crashing sound you are hearing from out east is Roger Goodell's last remaining image consultant flunky escaping down the nearest elevator shaft.

"I'm angry because the NFL is insulting my intelligence, and it insulted yours, and everyone watching the game, because they are trying to tell us that its not that big of a deal," "Monday Night Football" analyst Trent Dilfer said after the game. "We have a billion-dollar machine and ... we're letting this ruin it. It's tearing at the fabric of the game."

Keep in mind, these are not rabid face-painted, foam finger-waving fans. These comments are from NFL-approved national commentators shredding the very hand that feeds them and not caring about potential fallout. Perhaps they feel the NFL has bigger fish to fry. Nevertheless, their candor is refreshing from an entity that serves as one of the official mouthpieces of the league.

"For years we heard about the competitive, on-field competition was vital," Young continued, nearly losing his composure several times. "The purity of the competition; the fair fight that the NFL built up over a long period of time ... The game is so fast. So much faster than anything they've (the replacement officials) seen in their whole lifetime. It's impossible for them to get it right.

"You've got to be kidding me that I have to watch games turn one way or the other by people not competently presented," Young added. "The NFL is too good for this. The NFL is too big for this, and it's hard to watch."

Dilfer concluded, "For 10 years, this commissioner's office has been coming into NFL locker rooms saying 'we will do anything to protect the shield. ANYTHING.' It's ironic that you, the NFL, are what is screwing this brand up."

To that end, where has Goodell been in all of this? Dismissive memo aside, Goodell has been unacceptably silent on this matter. His league is crashing down all around him and the once-respected leader of North America's favorite sport is nowhere to be found.

The NFL not only has not had any referees, the league has had no voice. For Goodell to continue to lock himself up in his Fifth Avenue office and remain silent as Rome burns all around him may be the single most egregious failure of leadership professional sports has ever seen.

Why the silence? Why, when your product has been hemorrhaging credibility at unprecedented levels have you, the leader of this league, gone AWOL? In wartime, a similar dereliction of duty would be grounds for execution. And while football is not a life or death matter, real concerns over player safety have been raised by their association leaders to no avail.

Yet still, Roger remains nowhere to be found. Perhaps we should all find his closet and look for him in there. The likelihood is we will find him tucked away in a corner, hiding out from the reality that his inaction has turned the most respected sports league in the world into an international punch line. Closets are great hiding places, after all.

Especially for empty suits.

Doug Russell Special to

Doug Russell has been covering Milwaukee and Wisconsin sports for over 20 years on radio, television, magazines, and now at

Over the course of his career, the Edward R. Murrow Award winner and Emmy nominee has covered the Packers in Super Bowls XXXI, XXXII and XLV, traveled to Pasadena with the Badgers for Rose Bowls, been to the Final Four with Marquette, and saw first-hand the entire Brewers playoff runs in 2008 and 2011. Doug has also covered The Masters, several PGA Championships, MLB All-Star Games, and Kentucky Derbys; the Davis Cup, the U.S. Open, and the Sugar Bowl, along with NCAA football and basketball conference championships, and for that matter just about anything else that involves a field (or court, or rink) of play.

Doug was a sports reporter and host at WTMJ-AM radio from 1996-2000, before taking his radio skills to national syndication at Sporting News Radio from 2000-2007. From 2007-2011, he hosted his own morning radio sports show back here in Milwaukee, before returning to the national scene at Yahoo! Sports Radio last July. Doug's written work has also been featured in The Sporting News, Milwaukee Magazine, Inside Wisconsin Sports, and Brewers GameDay.

Doug and his wife, Erika, split their time between their residences in Pewaukee and Houston, TX.