By John Boyle
Lance Easley, the replacement official who became a national punch line (outside of Seattle, anyway) when he signaled touchdown on Golden Tate’s game-winning catch that most folks viewed as interception, tried to let his moment of infamy pass last fall. But when the interview requests kept coming, when concerned friends and family member kept calling, Easley decided to speak out about his life-changing day. He’s also writing a book called “Making the call: living with your decisions.” And despite most of the football world telling him he cost the Packers a victory, he still stands by his decision.
Easley, who was the umpire at Richard Sherman’s charity softball game Sunday, said of that play, “Oh yeah, I wouldn’t change it. I can’t.”
Easley admits that in retrospect he would have conferred with other officials to avoid the scenario that played out, him signaling TD while the back judge waived his hands over his head, presumably before signaling interception, but he stands by the call itself.
“The NFL upheld it, I’ve looked at plenty of video, I’ve talked to my replay guys, there’s nothing to turn it over,” Easley said. “The fact is, if you want to say that the defender had control of it in the air—which is loosely used, because really process of a catch you have to have two feet, or another body part, and control the ball when you touch the ground in bounds—the ball could have come loose anywhere in that process for a second, which nobody can really see even with all the cameras, and if it did, then it’s a loose ball but it didn’t touch the ground, so if they’re both on it, it goes to the offense. So it was just one of those calls. It’s just a play that will live in NFL history.”
As for why Easley would be participating in this event—he even posed for pictures before the game, signaling touchdown while standing with Tate—a decision that Packers fans might see as rubbing it in, his explanation was simple.
“I’m here for charity, and I would do the same for (Packers) charities,” he said. “I have no ill-will against any team, I’m not a Seahawk fan, I’m not a Green Bay fan. I stopped being a fan years ago.
“That’s why I’m here, to give back.”
Easley, a former Marine, didn’t hesitate when Sherman asked him to participate in the game, which donated part of its proceeds to Helping a Hero, an organization that builds adapted homes for wounded veterans and their families. The way he sees it, if his infamy can help a good cause, why not stay in the spotlight?
But while Easley will put on a referees uniform, have fake arguments with Russell Wilson and sign autographs for Seahawks fans, likely the only NFL fans who would want his autograph, don’t expect him to change his mind about the call even if he’s willing to make light of the aftermath.
“I just happened to be stuck in the middle of it,” he said. “I made a call, it was a correct call—even though Green Bay fans will never say it’s correct—it was a difficult call, and it was one you just don’t want. As an official you want black and white calls, you don’t want gray calls, and that was a gray call that you had to be involved in and make it within a couple of seconds.”