NFL-Packer fans voice frustration over questionable calls

Reuters Middle East

GREENFIELD, Wis, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Packer nation was ablaze on Tuesday with fans throughout Wisconsin and the nation voicing their displeasure with the National Football League's replacement officials after their team lost a heartbreaker on Monday Night Football.

"They got screwed," said Jennifer Hanley, 31, as she tended bar at Romine's High Pockets, a sports bar and pool hall in Greenfield, Wisconsin.

"The refs suck, they are dragging down the NFL," she said as she poured a soda for a patron, adding she will not watch her beloved Packers until the NFL resolves its labor dispute with the full-time referees.

The NFL is using replacement referees from the lower ranks of college and semi-professional football during a lockout of regular officials caused by a dispute over a new contract.

Others fans said they got squeamish watching the final moments of the Packers 14-12 loss to Seattle, a game that ended on a desperation heave into the end zone that appeared to have been caught by Green Bay's M.D. Jennings.

Jennings appeared to have gained control of the ball before Seattle Seahawks receiver Golden Tate's hands made contact with it but as they fell to the ground the two referees close by made differing calls - one ruled a touchdown and the other an interception.

Tate also appeared to push a defender during the play. Officials upheld the ruling of a touchdown after reviewing an instant replay.

"It was ridiculous ... I was sick to my stomach as all of the chaos on the field was going on," said Jonathan Peterson, 32, a life-long Packers fan who lives in Green Bay. "It was wrong on so many levels."

"You can't say anything bad about Seattle... the refs made a bad mistake," said Jeff Skorzewski, 59, waiting for a bus in Milwaukee and wearing a Packers sweatshirt.

As soon as the game ended, Facebook pages began to pop up calling for a boycott of the NFL until full-time officials are back to work.

"Two words, no further explanation needed: disgusting officiating," one of the organizers posted on their page early Tuesday morning.

One post on the Green Bay Packers Facebook page had more than 14,000 comments on it by Tuesday afternoon as many Green Bay and NFL fans bemoaned the controversial outcome.

"The Pack was robbed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" wrote Crystal Hatcher, a fan from Saint Augustine, Florida.

"Not even Vikings fans could like this Pack loss." wrote another fan.

Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who successfully spearheaded public sector labor reforms last year, seemed to be in support of organized labor in this case, using the hash tag #Returntherealrefs on his Twitter account."After catching a few hours of sleep, the #Packers game is still just as painful," he tweeted.

State Senator Jon Erpenbach, a Democrat, caused a stir by twice tweeting the office number of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell so fans could voice their frustration over the phone."If tonight's game doesn't make the NFL settle with the real refs this season will be a joke," he tweeted. (Reporting By Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Mary Wisniewski)

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