Editor’s note: The following was submitted prior to the Packers’ 28-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints Sept. 30.
By Reggie Roberson
It’s 2 a.m. on the night (Sept. 24) of the Packers-Seahawks debacle. For some reason, I cannot sleep, and I’m nowhere being close to sleeping. A lot of thoughts are running around the noggin, so I had to break out the laptop. When I used to write a weekly column, one of my favorite sayings was that we were always having the wrong discussions.
Well, folks, we’re doing it again. The referees didn’t cost the Packers that game on Monday night (Sept. 24). The Packers and Coach Mike McCarthy cost them that game. The Packers, following that game, were 3-4 in their last seven games. Clearly, there are problems besides the referees. I hope, but doubt, that on the way home McCarthy used the long plane ride to look his team in the eyes and tell them he and they blew that game.
Why has the Packers’ offense stunk for the last four games? Why can’t the receivers get open and downfield? Why can’t the receivers catch the ball? Why can’t the offensive line pass block? Why did it take until second half for McCarthy to adjust his play calling? Did the refs sack Aaron Rodgers eight times in the first half?
Why couldn’t the Packers score touchdowns in the second half instead of field goals? The questions the Packers need to be asking should be among themselves. They would be if it wasn’t for the outcome.
The Packers are a young team, and being a Packers fan, I will be real curious to see if this will destroy or propel the Packers. I have felt for years that their youth has hurt them in terms of egos and crying, even to the point of playing victims. The Packers have been one of the youngest teams in the NFL for 10 years. Rodgers, who is 28, is the sixth-oldest guy on the 2012 roster. The Packers have had very good teams for 20 years, but only two Lombardi trophies to show for it.
I’m not an NFL coach, nor did I stay in a Holiday Inn last night, but the entire first half I’m watching and wondering, “Where are the screens, rollouts, two-back sets and all the other tools to slow down the rush?” Does McCarthy realize for the first time in 25 years the Packers have no backup at the quarterback position? Why does he allow the MVP to continue to get hit?
Near the end of the game, why didn’t McCarthy take a safety then kick the ball on a free kick and make Seattle drive farther to beat the Packers? I called that right away on Facebook, in case you wonder.
My fear as a Packers fan is that the Packers use this as an excuse rather than use the game as a tool to look inward. Mike Ditka used to use a version of the following poem, “The Guy in the Glass” by Dale Wimbrow, to motivate his team:
When you get all you want and you struggle for pelf,
and the world makes you king for a day,
then go to the mirror and look at yourself
and see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t your mother, your father or wife
whose judgment upon you must pass,
but the man, whose verdict counts most in your life
is the one staring back from the glass.
He’s the fellow to please,
never mind all the rest.
For he’s with you right to the end,
and you’ve passed your most difficult test
if the man in the glass is your friend.
You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum,
And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.
You can fool the whole world,
down the highway of years,
and take pats on the back as you pass.
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
if you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
I think part of why I cannot sleep is because I recognize this game and the reaction to it were all misguided. Yes, the refs stunk. Yes, there were bad calls on both sides. Sports officials have been screwing up for years. Last summer, an umpire cost a pitcher a perfect game on the last out of the game by making a call that wasn’t even close. Ask Orioles fans about a 9-year-old stealing an out from them. The Packers themselves caught a bad break in the NFL playoffs in 2001 when a ref didn’t call Jerry Rice out of bounds at Lambeau. Remember, a few plays later, Terrell Owens caught the touchdown pass between two defenders to beat the Packers?
The announcers from ESPN after the Packers-Seahawks debacle all acted as if their mother just died. They didn’t even point to the other calls the referees made that were horrible. The reaction was the Pack got hosed and the refs must go. None of this was professional, nor was it insightful. There was no narrative, except the last play being used as a catalyst to get the refs back. Why the agenda? Is it a friendly thing? They all know each other. Is it a union thing? They were all union members and still are. What’s the agenda? Is there anger toward the NFL because of the strike or because of the Saints’ bounty punishment? I don’t know, but who’s asking these questions?
I agree, the replacement refs stunk, and football was almost unwatchable until the regular refs returned. But did all these pundits care when the officials went on strike? Did they care about the fans when the 1994 Major League Baseball season was canceled? NO!
Don’t tell me the replacement refs were ruining the game. Most of us have had to look in the mirror, including me. Greed and money is what is ruining all professional sports, and these little skirmishes and strikes have nothing to do with the fans. And please don’t tell me the refs are costing you games. Don’t tell me I should be angry about this game. Don’t tell me I should be insulted. I will make up my own mind (Tim Hasselbeck).
I’m insulted when the pundits aren’t capable of telling the entire story. And, by the way, I wish we were as emotional about our country being destroyed as they were about this game.
Look in the mirror, McCarthy and members of the Packers — the answers are looking right back at you.
Former Rockford resident Reggie Roberson previously wrote the “Ramblings from Reggie” column for The Rock River Times. He now resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, and can be reached at Reggie.email@example.com.
From the Oct. 3-9, 2012, issue