METAIRIE, La. – Two days after the Green Bay Packers lost to Seattle on one of the most bizarre endings in NFL history, quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn’t sound a player who had moved on quite yet.
“I’m not going to mince words – it’s difficult,” he said. “You learn in this league that every loss is difficult, even more when it shouldn’t have been a loss.”
For the third week in a row, replacement officials have dominated the headlines and Rodgers’ Packers were at ground zero for the latest gaffe. Officials missed a blatant pass interference foul on a Seattle receiver and then questionably ruled simultaneous catch on what appeared to be an interception.
And yet, Rodgers wouldn’t place blame on the officials, instead putting on himself and his offensive cohorts.
“There’s a lot of blame to go around and I think for us, it’s better to focus on blaming ourselves because we put ourselves in that position than trying to blame the refs even though that wrong,” Rodgers said.
Still, with word coming through the Twitter pipeline that the NFL and the NFL Referees Association possibly being close, there was some light at the end of the tunnel.
Not that Saints interim head coach Aaron Kromer was willing to talk about it.
“I’d love to have a lot of thoughts on that but I have plenty of things to think about myself,” Kromer said. “All we are worried about right now is how we are getting better and how we are going to win a game and go up to Green Bay and have our best performance. I really don’t have any comment on any officials.”
Meanwhile, Saints quarterback Drew Brees went on national radio shows Monday, criticizing the replacement officials for being overmatched.
But Wednesday, he said his goal wasn’t to blast the officials. Rather, it was to put pressure on the NFL to get a deal negotiated.
“It was more a challenge to the league to resolve the matter and the fact that you feel like they obviously hold a great responsibility in making sure that that’s done properly,” Brees said. “I’ve been at the bargaining table before with our lockout situation a year and a half ago, so I know what that’s like. It takes both sides to come to a resolution and there needs to be compromise."
Brees doesn’t blame the officials working right now.
“The fact that these replacement officials have been put in a really tough position, because they’re not qualified with the instincts and everything else to be out there with the speed of the game – the level of play is just not fair to them,” Brees said. “They’re doing the best they can.
And like Rodgers, Brees wouldn’t place the Saints’ 0-3 start and discombobulated offensive performances on the replacement officials.
“All (there are) no excuses for our play and (we) only worry about the things that we can control, and that is just going out, preparing each week and just playing,” he said.
Brees added, “If there are replacement officials out there, so be it, we still play the game the same way. If it’s the other officials, then so be it, we’re still going to play the game the same way.”