Defeat leaves Packers fans furious
JANESVILLE Only a few people declined to talk Tuesday afternoon about the officiating and the end result of Monday night's Packers versus Seahawks game.
They smiled politely and suggested The Gazette reporter move on.
"You don't want to talk to me," a handful of people said. "I'm a Bears fan.
"But it's a bad day to be a Packers fan," they added.
With frustration mounting among professional football players, coaches and fans, their worst fears materialized during Monday's game. A mistake by replacement officials decided the outcome of a game, The Associated Press reports.
This came as the National Football League and its regular officials, locked out since June, resumed talks in an attempt to resolve the impasse, according to AP reports.
On the final play of "Monday Night Football," and with Seattle trailing, 12-7, former Wisconsin quarterback and Seattle starter Russell Wilson heaved a 24-yard pass into the end zone. Seahawks receiver Golden Tate shoved away a defender with both hands just before Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings both got their hands on the ball.
Officials ruled on the field the two had simultaneous possession, which counts as a reception. The Packers insisted Jennings had clear possession for a game-ending interception.
NFL spokesmen on Tuesday said Tate should have been penalized, which would have clinched a Packers victory. Spokesmen also said Seattle's last-second touchdown pass should not have been overturned.
Around Janesville on Tuesday, fans disagreed and questioned the NFL's reputation.
"It was absolutely a wrong call," said Packers fan Richard Cutsforth. "I can't think of when I've seen anything worse."
Patrick Wygans, owner of Wiggy's Saloon in downtown Janesville, made no bones about it. Playing with substitute referees is unacceptable, he said.
"They should cancel the season until the contract dispute is settled," Wygans said. "There's no way they should have played that game, especially after the weekend (which was filled with controversial calls from replacement refs).
"I've never seen nothing like it," Wygans said. "And I've been a football fan my whole life."
Nathan Bird was working at Time Out Pub & Eatery in downtown Janesville during the game, but he got home in time to catch the end of the game. Bird thinks that if the lockout continues, it could lead to a player strike.
"They've got to get the refs back before the football players strike," Bird said.
The referee lockout has changed the NFL for the worse, he said.
"It's just not fun to watch this year," he added.
The only solution is to get back to the table and sign a contract with the referees, said Bryan Riley, a Packers fan from Janesville.
Until that happens, players are at a greater risk of injury than they would be under the regular refs, Riley said. Some players are taking advantage of the inexperienced replacement referees, he said. The number of cheap shots or fights after plays is only going to increase, Riley said.
"There's going to be more injuries," he said. "They (the replacement referees) are star-struck. They're just regular guys like you and me, and they're going to be intimidated by these big-name players."
Charlie Smith of Janesville thinks the replacement refs are professionals who are doing the best they can. Still, that's not enough, he said.
"These guys that are in there are doing their best," he said. "But they're in over their heads."
The Associated Press contributed to this story