The play that will be mentioned most this week leading up to the regular-season opener between Seattle and Green Bay might mean the least.
You know the play, the one with a whole collection of nicknames: The Inaccurate Reception, The Golden Fleece, the Fail Mary or – my favorite – Russell Wilson’s first career game-winning interception.
Golden Tate was awarded a touchdown on a pass it sure looked like the Packers picked off, the decision coming from a replacement referee that went on to not only write his own book but to officiate Richard Sherman’s celebrity softball game last year.
So we’ve got to talk about it this week, right?
Actually, no. We really don’t. At least not if we’re interested in talking about things that, you know, actually pertain to Thursday’s opener.
Let’s pause here to recognize the hypocrisy inherent in this piece, which spends some time not to mention a few hundred words griping over the time that will be spent by others focusing on the arm-wrestling match between a wide receiver who is no longer with the Seahawks and a defensive back who is currently unemployed after M.D. Jennings was released by the Bears on Saturday.
This isn’t to minimize the significance of that play, but rather to put it in the proper context. It was an important moment for the Seahawks, an announcement that they were a team to be reckoned with. It also became a landmark for the NFL, the culmination of an ill-advised lockout of the regular officials. The league settled with its officials union in the days after Seattle’s “victory”.
Here’s what that play is not: motivation for the Packers nor something the Seahawks should be asked to apologize for. It is not a shadow that extends over Thursday’s game nor is it something that needs be explained in any further detail.
We all know what happened. On the final play of a Monday-night game in Week 3, Wilson threw a pass into the end zone that Tate grabbed with one hand, Jennings grabbed with two and the resulting tug-of-war was adjudicated by a guy who simply didn’t have the officiating chops to untangle such a knot.
That fellow was named Lance Easley, who was working that game only because the league had locked out its regular officials.
And that’s where my interest in that particular story ends. I don’t need to hear about Tate’s memories or Wilson’s thoughts or listen to someone else try once again to make Seahawks coach Pete Carroll feel sheepish for the final result. I also can’t think of anything I need to know less about than what Mr. Easley is up to now, though I’m sure that will be dug up. Easley has a book after all, “Making the Call: Living with Your Decisions.”
Only 26 players from that game remain on Seattle’s roster. There are 27 still with the Packers. That means that literally half of the players involved in this week’s opener weren’t in any way participants in that meeting two years ago, and quite frankly, that game is not a subject of conversation inside Green Bay’s locker room.
“There’s really nothing to say about it,” coach Mike McCarthy said in a conference call with Seattle-area reporters. “It seems like it has been a couple years now. We’re past it.”
Let’s hope so.
There are so many storylines for this game. A pair of Super Bowl winning quarterbacks are on the field, the Seahawks seeking to do something the Packers could not three years ago: defend their title.
The Packers have the hint of a potent ground game with Eddie Lacy while the Seahawks have a new defensive front after the offseason losses of Red Bryant and Chris Clemons.
The pass that decided that game two years ago is merely a footnote to this game, not a headline.