Scott Walker calls for return of unionized NFL refs
WASHINGTON -- Bipartisanship may not be in vogue this year, but there’s still one thing that can bring political opponents together – a blown call in a “Monday Night Football” game.
The NFL, which is relying on substitute referees while the league’s officials sit out due to an ongoing labor dispute, has been criticized throughout the season after a series of controversial calls.
But the situation reached a tipping point Monday, when Green Bay Packers safety M.D. Jennings intercepted a pass in the end zone on the final play of the game – until he didn’t. Officials ruled instead that Seattle Seahawks receiver Golden Tate caught the pass, securing a 14-12 Seahawks win.
Perhaps because of the egregious nature of the call or Green Bay’s convenient location in a pivotal battleground state, a wide array of political figures were quick to express their opinions on the game’s conclusion.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, famous for his crackdown on state unions, called for the referees to return to their jobs on Twitter. The refs, it should be noted, are unionized and currently locked out due to their demands for wage increases.
“I don’t think this has anything to do with unions, but has everything to do with refs making bad calls,” Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie told Sports Illustrated after the game.
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin native, said that the replacement refs reminded him of President Obama’s staff.
“Did you guys watch that Packer game last night?” he asked a town hall audience in Cincinnati. “I mean, give me a break. It is time to get the real refs. And you know what, it reminds me of President Obama and the economy. If you can’t get it right, it is time to get out. I half-think these refs work part-time for the Obama administration in the Budget Office. They see the national debt clock staring them in the face, they see a debt crisis and they just ignore and pretend it didn’t even happen. They are trying to pick the winners and losers and they don’t even do that very well.”
President Obama, a noted sports enthusiast, weighed in with a personally signed tweet, saying that “NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs’ lockout is settled soon.”
And Bill Clinton, during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” agreed that the replacement officials bungled the call.
“I would not have called that last play the way they did in that Seattle-Green Bay game last night,” he said. “The Packers will wake up this morning and just sort of shake their heads and say ‘We should have won by two touchdowns.”
But no amount of grumbling from politicians is likely to result in a change in either team’s record, with the NFL releasing a statement saying: “The result of the game is final.”