GREEN BAY, Wis. — One day after venting on his radio show about the refereeing debacle that cost the Green Bay Packers a game in Seattle, Aaron Rodgers saved one last barb for the NFL.
Asked Wednesday about how the Packers were handling the aftermath of a Monday night loss that touched off a national firestorm about the league’s use of replacement officials, Rodgers dismissed an NFL-issued statement generally supporting the officials’ handling of the situation a “bogus report.”
Beyond that, though, the MVP said it’s time to move on.
“I think one thing that we really learned from it is, as frustrating as it is, ultimately it’s a game judged by people who are imperfect, and there’s going to be mistakes,” Rodgers said.
“And you hate it that it affected us and we lost a win because of it, but there’s a lot of blame to go around other than referees. They have a job to do. They’re trying to do their best. They obviously didn’t bring their best in that game and in that play, but there’s a lot of blame to fall on the shoulders of guys like myself who didn’t play their best game that night.”
Going into Sunday’s game against New Orleans, Packers coach Mike McCarthy says it’s fine for his players to use the incident as motivation — to a point.
“I love emotion,” McCarthy said. “Emotion is the engine that makes this thing go. So I’m for any kind of emotion, as long as it’s channeled properly. So you want to talk about chips on your shoulder, whatever it is, the only emotion I don’t really care about is self-pity. We’re not the victim. Nothing’s guaranteed to you.”
With McCarthy urging his team to put the situation aside and focus on the Saints, it’s worth pointing out that the Packers wouldn’t have been in position to have that game taken from them if their sputtering offense was performing closer to its recent high standards.
Replacement officials didn’t allow Rodgers to get sacked eight times against the Seahawks, and the refs can’t be blamed for the Packers making themselves one-dimensional by handing the ball to running back Cedric Benson only twice in the first half.
This week’s drama took the focus off what has been an uncharacteristically poor start to the season by the Packers’ offense.
Three games into the season, the Packers rank 20th in yards passing per game (226), 28th in yards rushing per game (78.3) and 25th in total offense (304.3).
Packers players know the time for venting is over. There’s too much work to be done to dwell on anything else.
“It’s easy to put it behind us,” said M.D. Jennings, the player who appeared to intercept the decisive pass before the call went against him Monday night. “In this game, you’ve got to have a short memory and just learn from things and move on.”
The Packers are 1-2 after a last-second pass by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was ruled a touchdown catch by Golden Tate — when the Packers, their fans and most of the football-watching public saw it as a clear interception by Jennings.
“It’s tough to learn something from that situation,” Jennings said. “You can second-guess yourself thinking, catch it or bat it down, but I just had to go on with my instincts and that was to go up and try to make a play on the ball. And just put it behind me and move on. That’s all I can do.”
In a subsequent statement, the NFL acknowledged that Tate should have been flagged for offensive pass interference earlier in the play but didn’t take issue with the way replacement refs handled the rest of the play.
That further angered the Packers — especially Rodgers, who read portions of the statement on his weekly radio show on Milwaukee’s ESPN 540-AM Tuesday and paused several times to point out the inaccuracies he saw.
Rodgers is just one of several Packers players who spoke out. Packers players are not expected to be disciplined by the league for their comments.
Rodgers wasn’t surprised about the lack of punishment.
“There’s too many people who felt the same way,” Rodgers said.