A GRIP ON SPORTS
Roger Goodell is a freakin' genius. Admit it. That was the most exciting Monday Night Football game in years. And all because Goodell has realized the added attraction of over-their-head officials has reinvigorated the sport. Read on.
• As Russell Wilson's Hail Mary pass reached the zenith of its arc last night, you just knew, didn't you, that when it came down, it was going to be carrying a load of controversy? How could it not? After a game highlighted by blown calls, missed calls, unexplainable calls, the last play of the game had to have something special in the way of a call, didn't it? Who knew it would have so much? From Golden Tate's two-hand shove to clear space (making Jon Gruden giddy because his statement of “they never call offensive pass interference on the final play” just came to pass) to M.D. Jennings trying for an interception when a tipped ball out the back of the end zone would have been so much better, last scrum was a fiasco waiting to happen. And it did. Back judge Derrick Rhone-Dunn waved his arms, apparently to signify an interception and touchback. Side Judge Lance Easley raised both arms to signal a touchdown. The picture (above) of the two will enter the NFL lexicon along with Alan “The Horse” Ameche's 1958 NFL championship touchdown in overtime and Franco Harris reaching for the Immaculate Reception. And, hopefully, not supply the impetus for Goodell and the NFL to settle with their usual officials. I mean, how could games get any more fun (notice I didn't say better)? And think about this: When the regular guys return, the built in excuses for losses go away. It doesn't matter today the Packers gave up a year's worth of sacks in the first half. Nope. The refs cost them the game. It doesn't matter the Seahawks' offense was stymied for 60 minutes. Nope. They got a call at the end and won. Sure, maybe if the real officials were on the field, the Packers wouldn't have scored their touchdown. Maybe the pass interference on third-and-two isn't called or the hold on Bruce Irvin is flagged near the goal line. And maybe the Hawks don't need a couple of questionable calls late to keep drives alive. But what fun is that? Keep the new guys. Keep the controversy. Keep Twitter ablaze with criticism. It's all NFL, all the time.
• Washington State: There is no practice on Mondays (heck, the Cougars couldn't practice last night, two of the managers were officiating in Seattle – just kidding) but that doesn't mean there wasn't news out of Pullman. The most important of which has nothing to do with football. The Cougars senior point guard, Reggie Moore, was dismissed from the team by coach Ken Bone yesterday, who cited the all-encompassing “violation of team rules.” Love him or hate him (and Cougar fans were on both sides of this), Moore was the best ballhandler WSU had, the guy who was going to be counted upon to initiate the offense, to make sure Brock Motum got his touches at the right time and in the right spot. Now that's a role that is going to have to be filled by players more attuned to working without the ball than with it. Remember, the Cougars made a trip to Australia recently in which they attempted to blend all of this year's disparate parts together. Those five games all featured Moore on the court for a majority of the game. Now it's time to start over without much time to make it work. Christian Caple has a blog post and a story on what little is known about the decision. … Moore's dismissal was covered by a couple of the national media outlets. … Back to football, Christian covered the media interviews from Monday, with two blog posts focused on coach Mike Leach's comments. The second one also includes video of the players' comments. Connor Halliday was honest about his feelings concerning playing in Seattle (he would rather play home games in Pullman), which is refreshing. However, a couple Seattle radio folks, who rightfully complain on-and-off that athletes too often talk in platitudes, took him to task for saying what he feels. That will encourage open dialogue in the future. … Christian's interviews led to this notebook and the first look at Oregon. He also has a blog post focused on the weekly depth chart and his morning post. … A couple of side notes, with Bob Clark's Pac-12 notebook in the Register-Guard and a look at how sorry the Big Ten has been thus far this season.
• Idaho: Nothing from Moscow, but San Jose State is facing a different sort of test this weekend.
• Seahawks: Where to start? The last play seems to be the right place, as it dominated the game stories and, of course, columns from Seattle to Tacoma to Portland and beyond. There probably isn't a way to look at the last pass that wasn't covered somewhere, though M.D. Jennings' decision to try for a pick instead of just knocking the ball away – as I've seen practiced a million times over the years – isn't front and center anywhere. … The stories from Milwaukee and Green Bay are pretty fun to read, that's for sure. Think the folks in that area would like of piece of Goodell right now? … One last link. The referee talked with the pool reporter Danny O'Neill and kept his answers short and sweet. Think he was a bit nervous?
• Mariners: A day off (the M's had to take the day off, two of the players were officiating the Hawks' game – just kidding) means not a lot of news. But there is this feature on Oliver Perez, the old man of the bullpen, and the thought the M's are improved.
• NBA: The Seattle City Council agreed with the arena proposal. Another hurdle down.
• Seriously, officiating at the NFL level has to be one of the hardest tasks in sports. The players are so big, so fast, so focused, it must be near impossible to parachute in after doing a, say, NCAA Division III game on a Saturday, and officiate on a Monday night. Don't be angry with the guys in stripes. They are trying to do their best. Be angry with the folks who think a couple of million dollars in a billion-dollar business is worth all this crap. Until later …