BY Art Thiel 07:11PM 09/26/2012

Thiel: Call still wrong, but taint sticks to Tate

Golden Tate suddenly becomes the focus of national controversy and owns up to “hurt feelings” over the blistering he’s taking from critics of his decisive play against Green Bay.

Golden Tate was happy Monday night, less so when he heard from the haters. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

In the charts of American pop culture, somewhere between Snooki and Iron Man, sits Golden Tate, a late arriver but rising with a bullet.

Bemused. Bewildered. Beseeched. Not beaten.

For the second week in a row, the Seahawks wide receiver is the object of large national sports controversy, first for flattening a Cowboys linebacker with a block that bent sound waves, and Monday for a reception that bent the NFL.

With reports circulating that the league and its referees union are nearing a settlement of their labor dispute, due in no small part to Tate’s touchdown catch that many believe wasn’t, he was asked Wednesday what he planned to do for an encore in St. Louis, where the Seahawks play Sunday.

“Maybe throwing a touchdown pass, kicking a field goal, punting it . . . maybe a fake punt to cause controversy,” he said, grinning. “We’ll see.”

Tate was doing his best to keep it light, which is the province of those who come out on the long end of the conflagration Monday that became a media starburst. From “The Today Show” to “The Colbert Report” through a Twitterverse firestorm, Tate’s catch that beat the Green Bay Packers has been freeze-framed more than Jamie Lee Curtis’s topless scene in “Trading Places.”

But the episode for Tate hasn’t all been a giggle-fest.

“There’s been moments where it’s been tough,” said. “My feelings have been hurt on Twitter. It’s . . . whatever.”

What is being said?

“If I mix in those words, it would be bleeps, bleeps, bleeps,” he said.  “It’s nasty stuff. Mean.

“I’ve been called a cheater; I don’t have any dignity; I’m not a Christian. A lot of hurtful things . . . ”

Unsurprisingly, the anonymous, knuckle-dragger crowd is vilifying Tate for doing his job while missing the point that it is the NFL, by using replacement referees, has failed to do its job by presenting the game beneath the professional standards that it has set for itself.

The hyprocisy screams like un-medicated dentistry, but it’s always easier to target an individual than to blame the corrupt culture (see the American presidency). And Tate inadvertently left himself open to abuse by committing a pre-catch foul that, after watching the ubiquitous video, he admits he did.

“I’m not going to deny pushing him,” he said of shoving cornerback Sam Shields to the ground before leaping for the ball. ” The evidence shows on the film. I wasn’t trying to cheat. I was in the moment. I honestly didn’t try to push him down to the ground.

“It was just like backyard football, trying to find a way to get the ball.”

In a football game, everyone is in the moment, so that’s no excuse. But the backyard-football part is painfully true, given the quality of officiating. That’s not on Tate.

His foul improved his chances to catch the ball. A flag thrown by an official experienced in big moments likely would have given the Packers a 12-7 win, and the Seahawks would have no argument. But a player is under no obligation to compensate for an official’s incompetence.

As far as the catch itself, that wasn’t a miss, it was a judgment call. It was reviewed by NFL officials in the pressbox at the time, and again Tuesday in New York, from where the league office agreed with the field and box crews there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the call on the field.

I still disagree with the NFL’s interpretation of its own rules, because I believe their interpretation is wrong,  as this breakdown by ProFootballTalk.com explains. Moreover, the judgment is clouded by league politics — when it’s such a close call on such a high platform, the league had to back the replacements’ judgments or risk losing further ground in negotiations. Until a new deal is struck, the NFL’s official position is that the replacements are as good as the locked-out officials, otherwise the league is subject to fans’ demands for ticket refunds for an inferior product.

In fact, it’s already happened. In Seattle. The Seahawks’ reception and ticket offices were  peppered with requests from fans wanting a refund for the balance on their season ticket accounts because they felt the Seahawks cheated and were unworthy of further support.

The taint of Tate was too much for some of the Seahawks’ own. In the longstanding local argument over whether Seattle sports fans are too nice, I think the battle has been won by the critics of the civic sissyhood.

Somehow, they think an apology is in order from Tate and the Seahawks.

“A lot of people would like me to say I did not catch the ball,” he said. “I didn’t have a chance to play it on the DVR 50 times. At that moment, I couldn’t tell you completely what happened.

“It’s refreshing to know the NFL made the right call. That should clear up a lot of things.”

Well, no, the NFL didn’t make the right call. It merely circled the wagons. It’s an argument that will be without end.

Meanwhile, Carroll said Tate is holding up under the scrutiny.

“I know he got a microphone stuck right in his mug instantly after the play was over because the game was done,” Carroll said. “He talked about competing, talked about battling, and I thought he handled himself as well as he could under the craziest of circumstances.

“I think he’s going to be just fine. I think he’s very humble. It’s been a long haul for him, been frustrating for him, he wanted to do it earlier, but I think he’s so equipped as a player that he’s going to handle this fine.”

However, if a fan would like to switch passions to a related topic that is actually intelligent and relevant to the near future, the Seahawks lead the NFL in penalties per game at 10.7, and the average yardage loss is per game is third-worst (81).

They were third-worst a year ago too (65.7), which means the Seahawks are one of two things: The team most victimized by the bad officiating so far, or they continue to be a bunch of undisciplined louts who are compromising an otherwise good team with stupid fouls.

Jeez, are they in trouble when the real teachers get back to the classroom instead of the substitutes.


YourThoughts

  • OffTheLows

    I believe I heard somewhere that some Packers fans, since it’s impossible to get tickets in GB, bought Seahawks season tickets to get a good seat to this game. Only explanation for the refund suggestion. Otherwise, who the hell are these people? Do they not remember the Steelers Super Bowl? The 64 free throws by the Phoenix Suns in game 7 of the Western Conference Finals in 1993? The Vinny Testaverde QB sneak for the Jets in 1998? Even without those examples, who cares if the refs booted a call, though a photo from the back side of the play posted at another site earlier today looked pretty good for simultaneous catch advocates.

    • art thiel

      All I can tell you is that some Seattle fans have very high horses and very short memories about how sports work and now Seattle has been denied.

  • OffTheLows

    I believe I heard somewhere that some Packers fans, since it’s impossible to get tickets in GB, bought Seahawks season tickets to get a good seat to this game. Only explanation for the refund suggestion. Otherwise, who the hell are these people? Do they not remember the Steelers Super Bowl? The 64 free throws by the Phoenix Suns in game 7 of the Western Conference Finals in 1993? The Vinny Testaverde QB sneak for the Jets in 1998? Even without those examples, who cares if the refs booted a call, though a photo from the back side of the play posted at another site earlier today looked pretty good for simultaneous catch advocates.

    • art thiel

      All I can tell you is that some Seattle fans have very high horses and very short memories about how sports work and now Seattle has been denied.

  • Hawk_Eye

    There is no taint in true Seahawks fans. Golden did nothing wrong. The refs made the call. It’s not the one who touches the ball first, but the one that ends up with possession. This happens every sunday all over the field.

    • art thiel

      Some people need to blame an individual because it’s easier than understanding complexity or tolerating randomness.

  • Hawk_Eye

    There is no taint in true Seahawks fans. Golden did nothing wrong. The refs made the call. It’s not the one who touches the ball first, but the one that ends up with possession. This happens every sunday all over the field.

    • art thiel

      Some people need to blame an individual because it’s easier than understanding complexity or tolerating randomness.

  • Jamo57

    I’ve spent the past two days sequestered in my mother’s basement looking at all the video frame by frame and collecting all the data I could via the Twittersphere and can now say unequivocally that there was a second quarterback located on the grassy knoll at Century Link field. On a more serious matter, if Golden wants to maintain his sanity and his focus, I might recommend he not read the feed on his Twitter account. Have Pete’s Senior Twitter Coordinator handle all of his tweets.

    • art thiel

      Didn’t you know that the Twitterverse is an irresistible drug, just like commenting on SPNW?

  • Jamo57

    I’ve spent the past two days sequestered in my mother’s basement looking at all the video frame by frame and collecting all the data I could via the Twittersphere and can now say unequivocally that there was a second quarterback located on the grassy knoll at Century Link field. On a more serious matter, if Golden wants to maintain his sanity and his focus, I might recommend he not read the feed on his Twitter account. Have Pete’s Senior Twitter Coordinator handle all of his tweets.

    • art thiel

      Didn’t you know that the Twitterverse is an irresistible drug, just like commenting on SPNW?

  • Eric K

    Look at the photo Danny O’Neil has on his Seahawks blog on The Times web site. It isn’t clear evidence that Tate made the catch, but it is clear that it is a very close call that could have gone either way. It is a call that 100 people can watch and split 50-50 on. The real refs could have made the same call. They would have handled the mechanics better sure.

    Yet the national media is treating it like an obviously horrible call on the order of the 1st base call in the Cardinal’s world series or the 5th down for Colorado. The seeming certainty that it should have been an INT is ridiculous. You can’t tell me that the fact it went against the precious Packers isn’t influencing them.

    That people are attacking Tate is obscene. His hit against the Cowboys wasn’t dirty, he hit a LB who was chasing the QB in the chest with his shoulder. He didn’t head hunt, he didn’t lead with his helmet. The guy wasnt even hurt. And on this play he didn’t do anything remotely dirty, he pushed off on a hail Mary and then fought for the ball.

    • art thiel

      You’re right, it’s a 50-50 call that would be tough for the real refs. But the refs neither discussed it, nor received objective info from the booth, where the officials were fearful of a worse reaction in denying the touchdown. Regarding the the PI, the question is: Would real refs have called it? I think they would.

  • Eric K

    Look at the photo Danny O’Neil has on his Seahawks blog on The Times web site. It isn’t clear evidence that Tate made the catch, but it is clear that it is a very close call that could have gone either way. It is a call that 100 people can watch and split 50-50 on. The real refs could have made the same call. They would have handled the mechanics better sure.

    Yet the national media is treating it like an obviously horrible call on the order of the 1st base call in the Cardinal’s world series or the 5th down for Colorado. The seeming certainty that it should have been an INT is ridiculous. You can’t tell me that the fact it went against the precious Packers isn’t influencing them.

    That people are attacking Tate is obscene. His hit against the Cowboys wasn’t dirty, he hit a LB who was chasing the QB in the chest with his shoulder. He didn’t head hunt, he didn’t lead with his helmet. The guy wasnt even hurt. And on this play he didn’t do anything remotely dirty, he pushed off on a hail Mary and then fought for the ball.

    • art thiel

      You’re right, it’s a 50-50 call that would be tough for the real refs. But the refs neither discussed it, nor received objective info from the booth, where the officials were fearful of a worse reaction in denying the touchdown. Regarding the the PI, the question is: Would real refs have called it? I think they would.

  • Will

    “Jamie Lee Curtis’s topless scene in “Trading Places.” ?? Talk about a geriatric moment. IMDb is so good for trivia.

    • art thiel

      Some things don’t require aid by Google or websites.

  • Will

    “Jamie Lee Curtis’s topless scene in “Trading Places.” ?? Talk about a geriatric moment. IMDb is so good for trivia.

    • art thiel

      Some things don’t require aid by Google or websites.

  • NFL FAN

    Looks like a family law case were as both parents fight it out and it’s the kids(fans) that really suffer!

    • art thiel

      The metaphors in this episode will choke a family of English teachers.

  • NFL FAN

    Looks like a family law case were as both parents fight it out and it’s the kids(fans) that really suffer!

    • art thiel

      The metaphors in this episode will choke a family of English teachers.

  • 3 Lions

    Tate could have done w/out standing on the bench after ‘the catch’ & posing.

    • art thiel

      Good point. It’s not like he was racked with humility over his good fortune.

  • 3 Lions

    Tate could have done w/out standing on the bench after ‘the catch’ & posing.

    • art thiel

      Good point. It’s not like he was racked with humility over his good fortune.

  • Obi-jonKenobi

    Hey, thanks for the tip about the Jamie Lee Curtis’s topless scene in “Trading Places.” I didn’t know about that.

  • Obi-jonKenobi

    Hey, thanks for the tip about the Jamie Lee Curtis’s topless scene in “Trading Places.” I didn’t know about that.

  • Matt712

    OK, time to call ‘overkill’ here. I understand all the ways the Monday Night game continues to be an unfolding story and I’ve enjoyed the theater, as well as the fine journalism (as always). But here at ground zero, I was hoping we would, by now, at least begin to get back to some ‘football’ talk. Monday’s enormous distraction, as fantastic as it’s been, has left me starving for a good read on things we would surely be talking about otherwise.

    Bruce Irvin finally starting to ‘get it’ and what that does for Chris Clemmons would be a good read. Or what about the growing concern about the passing game? I thought the offseason goal (and moves) was to elevate the play at the quarterback position. Clearly, this has not happened. I don’t know that I’ve seen a better defensive performance from the Seahawks than last Monday, yet for a blown call they would have lost. Regardless of the officiating both ways, and with all due respect to the Packer defense, that game should have been a more decisive victory for the Hawks.

    Sorry Art. Hate to ride ya like a rented mule, but that call wasn’t my fault either!

    • art thiel

      I get your point Matt, but I also know this one play was significant well beyond the single-game outcome and would have overwhelmed the conversation in any other city as well. And the degree of abuse Tate took is newsworthy. The controversy changed the season because it brought back the real refs.
      We’ll get back to football, but don’t expect you’ve heard the end of this.

  • Matt712

    OK, time to call ‘overkill’ here. I understand all the ways the Monday Night game continues to be an unfolding story and I’ve enjoyed the theater, as well as the fine journalism (as always). But here at ground zero, I was hoping we would, by now, at least begin to get back to some ‘football’ talk. Monday’s enormous distraction, as fantastic as it’s been, has left me starving for a good read on things we would surely be talking about otherwise.

    Bruce Irvin finally starting to ‘get it’ and what that does for Chris Clemmons would be a good read. Or what about the growing concern about the passing game? I thought the offseason goal (and moves) was to elevate the play at the quarterback position. Clearly, this has not happened. I don’t know that I’ve seen a better defensive performance from the Seahawks than last Monday, yet for a blown call they would have lost. Regardless of the officiating both ways, and with all due respect to the Packer defense, that game should have been a more decisive victory for the Hawks.

    Sorry Art. Hate to ride ya like a rented mule, but that call wasn’t my fault either!

    • art thiel

      I get your point Matt, but I also know this one play was significant well beyond the single-game outcome and would have overwhelmed the conversation in any other city as well. And the degree of abuse Tate took is newsworthy. The controversy changed the season because it brought back the real refs.
      We’ll get back to football, but don’t expect you’ve heard the end of this.