T.J. Lang: making waves, making us proud!
EMU alumnus and starting guard for the Green Bay Packers T.J. Lang made headlines in a way that no EMU football player has since…well, maybe ever. Just in case you missed it, here’s our story so far:
1. The NFL owners are engaged in a contract dispute with the officials. The owners locked the officials out, and hired replacements.
2. The replacements don’t have experience officiating game play at anything near this level — most of them have only officiated high school and Division III football, with a few having experience in the XFL (indoor pro football) and Division I. Also, apparently some of them previously officiated the Lingerie Football League, but were fired for on-field incompetence. (Really.)
3. The replacements have done a terrible job. As much as we all gripe about “normal” officiating, this is far, far worse. The replacement officials do not have any control over the game, and it’s a matter of time until this lawlessness results in a serious injury to a player.
4. This came to a head last night, on Monday Night Football, when a series of blown calls, culminating in a non-call on blatant pass interference and the ruling of a touchdown when the defender clearly had possession, gave the win to the Seahawks over the Packers. It’s all pretty clear from the replays we’ve seen over and over today, but what you don’t get a sense of on replay is how bizarre the whole thing felt — play after play — as it happened live.
5. No one, except a few Seahawks fans, took this very well. (Even some Seahawks players, once they saw the replay, apparently agreed with or at least understood the outrage, and an unidentified player on one of the Packers’ NFC North rivals termed it “the worst call in NFL history”.) Packers players, understandably, took it quite hard.
T.J. Lang took the lead in expressing his anger at the officiating, and he expressed it publicly, posting repeated comments on Twitter in the hours after the loss.
(Follow after the jump for more, including the uncensored tweets.)
After some sleep and time for reflection, Lang added…https://twitter.com/TJLang70/status/250625644491333632
These will go down as the tweets heard ’round the world; as of this writing Lang’s second comment seems to be less than 500 retweets off the record, and his first comment is closing in on the #3 spot. Altogether, his four comments have been retweeted more than 185,000 times and reprinted across the web.
Of course, other players and fans had plenty to say, but Lang was the first NFL player to speak up about the game, and rarely has a pro athlete spoken so critically and unapologetically about officiating. This afternoon, in an interview on local radio, Lang continued to stand by his comments, and put the blame squarely on the owners.
I think more players need to speak out. I know if you say something you will be fined by the NFL. But we have to speak our mind to get a deal done. It all starts with the owners. The refs don’t have the experience to make the proper calls. They are having a hard time keeping up with the game. It is hard to blame those guys.
Lang also mentioned that, on the airplane ride home, the Packers players discussed the possibility of a strike or of taking a knee on every play. The NFL Players’ Association, in an open letter to the owners on Sunday, may have attempted to lay some legal groundwork for a potential strike; under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, sympathy strikes are generally illegal, but if the players can argue that the owners have created an unsafe working environment (and in doing so, also violated the players’ contracts), they could have grounds to strike.
Guards don’t tend to get much attention, but today T.J. Lang became the face of anti-lockout sentiment. Kudos to Lang for taking a stand and not backing down.