Readers respond to Mike Henderson's Feb. 1 article, "The Refs, Too, Were Stealers," and share their thoughts on the game.
Mike Henderson's article blaming the officials for the Hawks' loss in the Super Bowl is as absurd as it is shameful. Certainly the officials made at least one indisputable mistake. Matt Hasselbeck's tackle of Ike Taylor was not an illegal below-the-knee block. The touchdown called back for the receiver pushing off was a push-off. It does not matter whether or not it was a hard push or otherwise. It was clearly a push. That by rule is a penalty. The touchdown by the Steeler quarterback was ruled a touchdown by the official on the goal line. No video replay showed the ball did not cross the goal line. By rule that makes it a touchdown.
Henderson makes no mention of the fumble by the Hawks' receiver that was called an incomplete pass. Pittsburgh was the only team that could have recovered that fumble. Are the officials to blame for missing two field goals, botching the end-of-the-half time management, and holding on three occasions? How about the play calling? Was that the officials' fault as well?
Losers make alibis. Weeks ago, when Pittsburgh was on the other side of several poor calls, they overcame and still won. Seattle lost the Super Bowl because they did not make enough big plays. Pittsburgh won because they did. Someone please give Mike Henderson a "Terrible Towel" to dry his tears and ask him to grow up and start acting like a man instead of a blithering baby.
David F. Sheehan
I've noticed a lot of complaining in Seattle since the Seahawks lost to the Steelers on Super Bowl Sunday—something about controversial calls. And here I thought Seattle was known for its coffee and beer, not its "wines."
There are a number of possible reasons for the horrendous officiating in the Super Bowl game:
1. Incompetence—but only when it comes to one team and not the other? Perhaps the officials were blinded by the yellow and white in the Stealers' uniforms (spelling pun intended). Not likely the reason.
2. Intentional bias—and this, too, could be for a number of reasons:
(a) A personal grudge between one or more of the officials because of something in the past. It was said that Mike Holmgren and the lead official knew each other from the days of Mike's high-school coaching in California in the 1970s. I can see the official remembering Holmgren, but not the other way unless they were either friends or there was friction. If it was this, then the NFL has a major integrity problem and this officiating team needs to be exposed and fired.
(b) Media bias—the intent to promote the storybook ending to Jerome Bettis' career and to preserve fan interest during the game to maximize the value of advertising dollars by maximizing the audience to the bitter end (which would arguably not occur if there were a Seahawks blowout). Thus, did the media direct the officials to bias their calls? This would be a crime.
(c) Gambling—the Stealers covered the point spread. Huge sums were bet on this game. It is a matter of statistics that a few strategic calls during a close football game can swing the outcome. Were the refs paid off as were the 1919 Chicago White Sox when they threw the World Series? Yes, it has happened before. Yes, it is possible. Yes, it would be a crime. Yes, it would be considered racketeering.
So why does everybody just whine and accept this? It was so obvious. I believe the U.S. Department of Justice or the United States Congress should start an investigation. This wasn't just one or two calls; it was a pattern from the very first Seahawks series until the end of the game. It was so blatant only the blind didn't see it.
All the Monday-morning cry babies want to cry "fix" with the referees. (One of the referees reffed Holmgren 30 years ago; if anyone was going to "fix" the game, it would've been him . . . for, not against, the Seahawks!)
My advice to all you poor babies: Get over it!
Pittsburgh, it's true, played waay poorly in the first half, and I even said in jest at the party I attended, "Thanks to the refs for keeping us in the game!"
The truth is:
1. Big Ben did score, and the refs were exactly correct in not overturning the TD. Why? Because the ball only has to "break the plane" of the goal, and to overturn, evidence to do so must be "indisputable," which it wasn't. Results: TD and correct call!
2. Hassellbloom (whatever) fumbles, Steelers recover. Real time looked like Steeler recovery. On replay, defender touched him while he was falling; I called instantly that the play should and will be reversed. Results: Play reversed, Seattle ball, correct call!
3. The big one: Seattle TD in end zone. Penalty called for offensive pass interference. I didn't see it till the replay; I didn't think, at first, it amounted to enough to take away the TD. But, after review, I could see clearly that Darrell Jackson used his hand, got momentum and separation from it, to make the catch. Granted, I've seen much worse that were not called. However . . . result: TD overruled, correct referee call.
Seattle had their chances. They failed to capitalize and execute as a Super Bowl team should have. The Super Bowl is all about handling the pressure and execution. Whoever does that usually wins. The Steelers dodged some bullets, but frankly, if Big Ben throws the TD (over the intercepting defender), it's 21-3: game over.
The Steelers capitalized. They outscored Seattle and deserved the victory. Period. Dot. Finished!
Fort Walton Beach, FL
I live in Nashville. I am not a Seahawks fan. I have never seen anything as blatantly unfair as the officiating in the game in Detroit. It makes professional wrestling look legit. Could it be the unthinkable is, well, thinkable? That the game was fixed?
Reading Mike Henderson's whining makes football fans like me realize that the refs were not to blame. The pass interference penalty was correct. Henderson should just go read the rule book, and he will either agree or let his homer attitude reign. For example, look at the horrible pass interference call made against the Pittsburgh tight end on the screen pass. Also, the noncall on the interception return when Ben Roethlisberger was shoved from behind. To say the least, there were bad calls both ways; to say otherwise is wrong, and all the whining in the world by fans from anywhere does not change that. Great teams overcome bad calls and bad plays. Looks like Seattle is not a great team and Pittsburgh is. Looks like Henderson will have to face that as the truth, if he can.
As a lifelong Seahawks fan, I have tried (I believe successfully) to put aside my bitterness, my impatience, and (as all Seattle fans know oh so well) my general feeling of being shortchanged in yet another Seattle sports season. I left the Pacific Northwest long ago for the surreal, superficial world where the top news story last night was a new valet company that employs bikini-clad girls that park your car. Yes, LA. Hollywood. The scripted life where everyone (including myself) is looking for the next great story. I have to question if the world I have chosen to live in has flooded the outer arena of life. Specifically, in this case, professional football. Even more specifically, the Super Bowl. It seems that somewhere along the line, story collided with "may the best man win." I tried to forget the story of the Detroit native returning home to play his last game, the Super Bowl, in front of his hometown crowd. Quite frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if a movie of the week is being written about this event. Why, if he loved his hometown so much, didn't he play for the Lions? If I remember correctly, a running back slot opened up a few years back. I tried to forget the back-and-forth banter of a wide receiver and linebacker creating such great "conflict" in this great story called Super Bowl. And lastly, I tried to forget the refs, who seemed to be actors waiting to improvise in a script given any chance they got. I tried to put all of that aside to watch a game. I couldn't. It seems like the NFL is not too far from being entirely scripted. Maybe they should cut to the chase and hire a team of writers to script the entire event? Maybe they have. I haven't seen any ads in The Hollywood Reporter looking for writers. Maybe I should start writing the script for the next Super Bowl. Cut to the chase—the NFL and the WWE should merge. Wouldn't that just be easier? Let's get Hulk Hogan out of retirement to play tight end. Or if he doesn't want to play,
maybe he can call the game. The situation is completely out of hand. At the end of the day, I assume I'm like most of the viewers—a guy who wanted to watch a game. A game that should have given birth to new, original, unscripted stories.
Los Angeles, CA