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Seahawks fans' reaction to disputed call 'foolish'

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel has a bone to pick with some Seahawks fans. He's baffled by the action of several season ticket holders following the Seahawks' controversial victory over the Green Bay Packers Monday night, at the hands of replacement referees.

'Stolen victory'

Art says the Seahawks' front office was flooded with calls Tuesday morning from fans wanting their season tickets refunded.

"They did not want to be part of a team where they steal victories."

Art says it's proof that Seattle is a sports town like no other.

"The argument in Seattle has always been that fans here are too genteel and passive and they're not as engaged as you'd see in Boston or New York or Philly or Detroit. After that I'd have to agree. That is so foolish to give back your tickets because you were indignant about an outcome that favored your team!"

Blame the NFL

In the 40-year history of Monday Night Football, it was the first time that a game was decided by a touchdown with no time remaining. Replacement referees ruled that the battle for the football in the end zone was a simultaneous catch that favored the Seahawks, giving them the 14-12 victory. Players, fans and even President Obama thought it was a bad call.

Art says Green Bay should've won the game. But the Seahawks happily took the victory - just like any other team would've done.

"I understand about the rules of fair play but this is the hand the NFL dealt them. The replacement referees were completely incompetent to manage the situation."

Regarding the massive backlash, he says the NFL had it coming.

"They have been mocked by every comedian in the land. They're the punch line. It's humiliation - and that's the last thing the NFL can stand, but the arrogance and hubris of the NFL owners to think they can get away with this is just astonishing. They deserve every bit of criticism that they're getting, and even more."

The controversy was the final straw in a string of bad calls from replacement refs. It led to the league and its referees union returning to the bargaining table and hammering out a new contract.

New appreciation for refs

Art says the long-term effect of all of this should be more respect for refs.

"I think now the NFL owners along with fans and players have a much higher appreciation for the veteran referees who put in a lot of time in a part-time job to make sure they're not only on top of the rules but they're in charge of the game's integrity and safety. Think about that. It's such an important role. It's a hard task and they do it very, very well. I think every sports fan welcomes them back and will give them maybe one Mulligan before they start booing them again."

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest.

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.