Tonawanda News


September 25, 2012

DUVALL: When a catch isn't a catch

Tonawanda News — I’ve been a sports fan all my life, but these days it seems like pro sports leagues are doing everything in their power to turn me off to their games.

The latest thing to tick me off? The NFL’s petty and cheap battle with its referees. 

The NFL makes billions in revenue and has captivated Americans for decades. We give over one-seventh of the days in a week to this one enterprise. Sunday mornings people go to church. After that they worship football. 

At its best, sports bring people together and provide a common bond with neighbors and strangers alike in communities across America. Football makes for barroom banter, newspaper fodder, weekend parties and a ready excuse to eat multiple kinds of dip as a meal. Cholesterol levels not withstanding, these are good things. 

Then these replacement referees so badly bungled the end of Monday Night Football it makes us all admit we’re investing far too much energy in what is really just a game — and a pretty stupid game at that.

For you non-football types, here, in plain English, is what happened to end the game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks. 

Both teams stunk up the joint for a large portion of the game. With precisely one touchdown scored for most of it, Green Bay held the lead on the game’s final drive. The Seahawks needed a touchdown to win and on the final play, threw a Hail Mary pass into the end zone. 

What happens next defies logic, much less plain English.

First, a Seahawks wide receiver shoves a Packers defender out of the way when trying to catch the ball. This is against the rules. At least it’s supposed to be. But players jostle for the ball all the time and it is never called. Still, everyone agrees the refs should have thrown a flag making this next part — wherein we are required to debate what it means, both literally and existentially, to catch a ball — moot.

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