I've spent the past six-plus years listening to Seattle Seahawks fans complain about the pivotal close calls that went against their team in the Steelers 21-10 victory in Super Bowl XL. I've felt pretty guilty about the championship that finally clinched the "one for the thumb" for our Black and Gold.
Actually, that's a lie.
I've felt joy, euphoria, excitement, satisfaction, contentment, pride and a lot of other things that you would normally feel after your team won a championship. I've also watched my DVD of Super Bowl XL so many times, if it were a VHS tape, It would be onion thin. Fortunately, DVDs don't wear out, and even if something does happen to mine, I can always go out and find a new copy.
I can't speak for a lot of fans, but I know it's my favorite Steelers championship--my favorite moment was El to Hines, in-case you're scoring in Seattle. Maybe there are some Steelers fans that feel guilty about Super Bowl XL (I haven't met any), but I'm certainly not one of them.
Still, though, the constant whining and complaining does tend to get old after a while, as do the accusations of shenanigans on the part of the Steelers/NFL: "The NFL wanted the Steelers to win the game for ratings." "The league wanted Jerome Bettis to go out a champion in his hometown." "Dan Rooney bribed the officials with free flying lessons." "The Steelers are just totally awesome, and nobody would care if Seattle won the Super Bowl." Ok, I made up that last one because I'm an arrogant Steelers fan, but the third one may actually be true. Dan Rooney can fly a plane, and who wouldn't want the chance to take flying lessons from the greatest owner in football? NFL officials, regular or replacements, are only human, after all.
But I digress.
There are three plays from Super Bowl XL that always come up whenever Seahawks fans are discussing the game:
The Darrell Jackson push-off on Chris Hope in the end zone that resulted in an offensive pass interference call and prevented a Seattle touchdown--it could have gone either way, but since it went against Seattle, the Steelers cheated.
The Ben Roethlisberger quarterback keeper on 3rd and goal that was called a touchdown. It was close, but only the nose of the football has to cross the plane of the goal line. It was ruled a touchdown on the field, and there wasn't enough evidence on replay to overturn the initial call, so it stood--another play that could have gone either way, but since it went against Seattle, the refs were in the Steelers pockets.
And the last play was the Sean Locklear hold on former Steelers linebacker Clark Haggans that prevented a first and goal situation for the Seahawks early in the 4th quarter. Locklear clearly has a hold of the jersey, and the only people who wouldn't call this holding are folks with severe intimacy issues--and Seahawks fans.
These are three plays that could have gone either way, and there can be arguments made for both sides, I suppose, but for whatever reason, Seahawks fans are pretty adamant that the calls should have gone in their team's favor, no matter what.
Fortunately, we Steelers fans have had 40 years of practice dealing with whining fans and former players of other teams who make ridiculous accusations about the NFL/game-day officials wanting the Steelers to win for one reason or another, and we've learned to take it in stride--we've also been distracted by all the parades.
But we in Steeler Nation may not have to worry about accusations of wrong-doing in Super Bowl XL any longer, and we can thank the replacement officials for that. I've been banging the drum about the replacement officials hurting the integrity of the game since early in the preseason, but had I known that they would make perhaps the most obvious blown call in the history of the league, they would do so on Monday Night Football in front of a national audience, and that the Seahawks would be the benefactors, I would have been their biggest cheerleader right from the beginning.
In case you don't know, at the end of Monday night's clash between the Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers, Seattle was trailling, 12-7 and was down to its last play--a Hail Mary pass by quarterback Russell Wilson. The usual scrum of offensive players and defensive players converged on the ball in the back-left corner of the end zone. Packers' defensive back M.D. Jennings appeared to gain total control of the pass before Seahawks receiver Golden Tate reached in and got his hands on the football as the players fell to the turf. One official ruled it a touchdown, another appeared ready to rule it a touchback, but it was eventually ruled a touchdown on the field. At any rate, the play was obviously reviewed, and even though it was clear to just about anyone with eyes that it should have been an interception, the referee decided to misinterpret the "simultaneous possession belongs to the offensive player" rule, and the play stood as called on the field.
I don't know who the side judge was that initially called that a touchdown--he also missed a blatant push-off by Tate--but I'd like to shake his hand. You know why?
Seahawks fans, your team totally got away with one Monday night, and in your minds, this probably won't make up for a Super Bowl loss, but maybe now you know the difference between a close call that goes against your team and an obvious BLOWN CALL that favors your team.
Hey, maybe the replacement ref has Golden Tate on his fantasy team; maybe the sideline official who blew the call is a huge Seahawks fan--Godell knows, there is a recent history of that kind of stuff. That would be even sweeter.
Maybe I'll go and photo shop a picture of a replacement ref wearing a wolf grey, college navy, action green and white colored officiating uniform. That would be pretty creative.
Maybe, instead of that, I'll just go watch my Steelers Super Bowl XL DVD.
Replacement officials, I was wrong about you. You have some redeeming qualities that I wasn't aware of. You may have shut up Seahawks fans once and for all.