Friday, October 19, 2007

An Open Letter to Terry McAulay

Packers 17 - Redskins 14

Dear Mr. McAulay,

I am writing to express my outrage at you and your officiating crew's deplorable conduct at the NFL competition between the Washington Redskins and the Green Bay Packers on October 14th, 2007.

Officially, the Packers won this game by only three points. Had you done your job correctly, the final score would have had the Packers winning by a margin of at least 15 points. You took two touchdowns -- TWO -- off the board.

First, with 4:03 left in the first half, Green Bay was 2nd-and-17 on the Washington 23 when Brett Favre threw a deep pass down the middle to James Jones for a touchdown. You nullified that play, however, by enforcing a totally perplexing offensive holding penalty called on Mark Tauscher. How could it be that you let the Redskins defenders absolutely shut Aaron Kampmann and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila down -- at least once with a clear shot of Kampmann's jersey being stretched as he ran by -- without a penalty, and then, out of the blue and with zero visual evidence, call Tauscher for holding? Tauscher? Really? Check it again, Mr. Magoo... er, McAulay.

Second, with 10:06 left in the game, after the Packers recovered a fumble inside the Washington 10 yard line, Green Bay had a 2nd-and-goal on the 8 when Favre threw a strike to Bubba Franks in the back right corner of the end zone. Fred Smoot forced him out of bounds. Franks caught the ball and was shoved out -- shoved. The duo on your team on that part of the field didn't even need to focus on his second foot being down. His first foot went down in bounds after the shove. It is my understanding that it's now possible to enforce a penalty on such a play... I believe it's called a "force out." You need to look it up to be sure -- do some research -- but I'm fairly certain that type of play in the end zone is exactly what that penalty is meant to combat.

I am aware that football fans are always at the ready to blame officiating crews when their team loses. Most of the time, though (admit it), you get away with one bad call against a team by peppering 'make-up' calls in their favor as the game progresses. And it is incredibly rare that a dunderhead call (or no-call) costs a team points. In this case, however, you managed to change the score by at least six points for one team not just once, but twice. I'll allow for the possibility that the first call against Tauscher was a make-up call in Washington's favor for a play earlier in the second quarter -- you allowed Charles Woodson to steal a ball from Santana Moss in what could be argued was a simultaneous possession play (which by rule should go to the offense). Even if we allowed you that one, though, I scoured the tape (which of course I legally made with the express written consent of both the National Football League and the Green Bay Packers) and could not find anything remotely deserving of a second touchdown denial.

In fact, there was even more unjust officiating which harmed the Packers, above and beyond the confounding ones detailed earlier. Greg Jennings got bumped off his route way beyond the five-yard mark, a flag was thrown for what was sure to be a good 45- to 50-yard penalty on Washington... and then the flag was picked up and the penalty was waved off. And here's another conundrum: If a defender, like, say, Charles Woodson, has a legitimate play on an errantly-thrown ball and the offensive receiver interferes with the defender's opportunity to catch the ball, should you or should you not call the defender for illegal contact? Feel free to check the tape, but I'll give you a hint: You should not. (Yet you did.)

Thank you for giving this letter and the countless others I'm sure you've received in the past couple of weeks their due merit. Someday soon, as you're hopefully enjoying an early retirement, I hope you'll take a moment to pen your own letter to the Packers and the crew at Lambeau Field, thanking them for allowing you the opportunity to learn so much about the game of football that day. Perhaps you will enjoy watching football just that much more, knowing that there are much better officiating crews keeping a watchful eye on the fields all around the country.

Andy Stoffels
Oregon, Wisconsin

CC: Bruce Stritesky, Jim Mello, Mark Steinkerchner, Greg Gautreaux, Michael Banks, Steve Freeman, Roger Goodell

This game won't go down in history as a well-played match by both teams, of course. In fact, while the Pack had some absolutely phenomenal plays on both sides of the ball, the 'Skins easily had the most almost-plays in a game this season. Brett had his record-breaking interception in this game (so that wait is finally over), but if Washington's players could have actually caught a ball in this game, he might well have broken a different record -- for total interceptions in a game. In their defense, it was misting quite a bit, and they... oh, wait, they have an outdoor stadium. Never mind.

Going into the bye week, the Packers have a record of 5-1. This is the most fun I've had in a while. Next up: Monday Night Football from a mile up.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

put some stripes on yourself (Blogger) and see how the game is managed. Quit complaining unless you know how to do the job that these folks do. And if you do, do the job, you should be ashamed of wearing your uniform by publicly criticizing officials in this forum.

11:16 AM  
Blogger embiggened said...

Let's pause for a moment as we contemplate the irony involved in the circumstance that had this reader choose to post this as "anonymous."

I'm sure you're right. It is irresponsible of me to have an opinion, stated -- as everything is here -- with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Don't like my opinions? You need to find something else to do with your time apart from reading other people's blogs.

My experience is as follows: My Freshman year college roommate (who was a Junior at the time!), Adam Watkins, was a ref. He was a jackass. (Warning: That was another opinion.) Logic dictates, therefore, that Terry McAulay called a horrible game last October.

Let me tell you what I do know how to do. I know how to be a Packers fan. A football fan, in fact. And one of the things you'll eventually learn about being a football fan if you apply yourself, annie, is that you become very astute at the blame game. (Did you even read all the way into the fifth paragraph of my mock letter, I wonder?) We fans are compelled to identify as many outside factors as possible that could potentially cause or lead to the failure of our favorite team(s). Officiating crews are pretty high on the list every game. Weather is another one. Quite a bit further down the list, you run into things like whether or not the QB's girlfriend might somehow be distracting him from up in a luxury box somewhere in the stadium.

Congrats to these refs and their crews for being skilled enough to call 17+ games a year at the national level. I have tons of respect for them, and I recognize that they're a crucial part of the game. I am not, however, näive enough to be convinced that they do not make mistakes that change the outcomes of the games they call or, at worst, that jeopardize the health and safety of the players on the field. It sounds like you've equated their skill with perfection. If you have been so brainwashed, then imagine me shaking my head in pity.

BTW, there was one other game last season (if you hated this post, I can't imagine how closely your head will come to exploding when you read that one) that I think would have come out differently had a couple of ticky-tack calls been (or, in one case, not been) reconsidered. Perhaps there was even a game in which we were on the favorable end of the officials' mistakes and won a game we shouldn't have. It's possible. I admit my bias, but having watched all of last year's games again a few times this offseason, I can't say I can point to one.

Oh, and as to your assertion that I would ever be ashamed of anything I say or write here... well, you're obviously a new reader. Welcome.

12:02 PM  

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