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Posted on Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Former EMU player T.J. Lang sounds off on NFL after Monday Night Football debacle

By Pete Cunningham

Twitter can serve as a dangerous suggestion box.

And for former Eastern Michigan football player T.J. Lang, it may soon prove a rather expensive one, too.


Former Eastern Michigan football player T.J. Lang, pictured above, was openly critical of the officiating following a controversial finish to Monday night's Packers vs. Seahawks game.

Green Bay Packers photo

After a controversial end to the Monday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks on ESPN, Lang sounded off on the NFL for not having the labor dispute settled with its regular referees.

“Got (expletive)ed by the refs.. Embarrassing. Thanks nfl,” Lang posted on his Twitter account, @TJLang70 early Tuesday morning.

Lang, a Royal Oak native, played at Eastern Michigan from 2005-2008 before being drafted by Green Bay in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft.

Green Bay lost 14-12 to Seattle after a last second pass into the end zone that appeared to be intercepted by a Green Bay player was ruled a touchdown for the Seahawks. Two officials were in the end zone and one signaled for an interception, the other a touchdown, before eventually both signaling the score. It appeared the Green Bay defender, M.D. Jennings, intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass and came down with it before Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate wrapped his arms around the ball.

According to the NFL rulebook, if two opposing players gain simultaneous possession of the ball, the tie goes to the offensive player. However, if two players are ruled to have simultaneous possession, but one of the players had sole possession prior to the tie, the player who originally had the ball retains possession.

The NFL locked out its officials in June after their contract expired and the league has been using replacement officials through the preseason and first three weeks of the regular season as a result. There has been heavy criticism over the replacement referees’ performance in the early goings of the season and it all came to a head after the Monday night game.

While criticism of officials is nothing new to the NFL, or any other professional sports league for that matter, the fact that the referees on the field actually haven’t gone through the standard training and qualifying process has brought especially pointed scrutiny.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has already instructed players and coaches not to publicly criticize the replacement officials and doled out expensive fines for not those who have not complied.

Lang seemed well aware that his actions will likely draw a stiff penalty and, judging from his posts on Twitter, doesn’t seem to mind. He just hopes the money goes to a worthy cause.

“(Expletive) it NFL.. Fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs,” Lang said on Twitter.

Pete Cunningham covers sports for


music to my ear

Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.

I was not even there .and I clearly saw green bay catch the ball and that seahawk trying to steal it from him get on the ball and bring in the "officals".

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

Lang is an offensive lineman on an offense that allowed eight sacks in the first half. A better performance there, and the game never would have come down to that final play. So Lang is the last guy who has the right to criticize anyone's job performance last night. After a lot of reading, the NFL rulebook is unclear on what constitutes control of the ball. I think the call was wrong. I think the 8.1.3 rules, put together, indicate that Tate could not have established control of the ball while holding it with one hand against the arms of the defender - even if he came down with the ball. So I think the simultaneous possession call was wrongly applied, as Pete described. But this is a job for the rules committee. This section got a rewrite in 2011 and needs another one. I see what the refs are saying - the video did not provide conclusive evidence that Tate didn't possess the ball, therefore the ruling on the field can't be changed. The question is whether that one hand can possibly constitute possession before the play is completed. I'm not sure the regular refs would have gotten that one right (of course, there was the pass interference, too - I'm certainly not claiming Seattle has a strong case here). Meanwhile, no one is talking about the game in 2008 where regular referee Ed Hochuli blew a call in the final minute that gave Denver a win over San Diego. He apologized, but it didn't change the standings. As for who is to blame? Shouldn't the NFL have the right not to sign a contract it feels is unfair, just as the referees have the right not to sign the NFL's offer? I'd like to see the regular refs back next week, too. But if that's impossible, the NFL should add another level to the replay process to ensure that someone who knows the rulebook backward and foreword sees every reviewable play in the booth.


Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 12:27 p.m.

All this b.s. for $20 Million (experienced ref. money difference) in a system valued in the BILLIONS of $,$$$,$$$,$$$. For comparision that is probably less than one superbowl ad. The owners/NFL probably thought, ha there just ref's, screw them we'll get by. But it appears the uniform application of rules by experience professional is rather important to the game. Simply put, the games are becoming hard to watch. Maybe Mr. Ford is scanning and with luck will read the comments, as he does have the influence to make change. It just better happen soon.

Brett Petersmark

Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 12:16 p.m.

Lets face it there was an even worse call on the pass interfereence to even get the Seahawks in the red zone. Good for TJ Lang having the guts to say what everyone is feeling. I am tired of watching a game that is dictated by sub par refing. It has been three weeks of calls that are not held to the level we ask the athletes and coaches to perform. These poor calls are effecting palyers and coaches livelyhoods. This isn't college where the kids go back to class and reload for next week. The sad thing is the monies the NFL is fighting over is less than 1% of the revenues generated through the season, while it is negatively affecting the sport as a whole. Pay the refs the extra $500 and move on.


Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

This is about part time employees who are asking for the benefit of a full pension when they retire. Should a part time employee who makes $150,000 a year have a full pension? It's not a question if the NFL can afford it, we know the answer to that. Can you name any other business entity that you are aware that pays a full pension to retired part timers?


Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

I thought I heard it was on the level of $20 million, which is probably not even make the significant digits on their balance sheet. Its probably closer to <0.01%.

The Black Stallion3

Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

If you watched this game you would agree with Lang.


Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 10:10 a.m.

For the record, that Frank Gore Twitter account isn't actually verified...could be a fake.

Pete Cunningham

Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

The quote from the fake Frank Gore Twitter account has been removed. Lang re-tweeted the comment, but it indeed was from a parody account. Thanks for the heads up.


Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

It is fake. If you actually click on the page, here's what you get. Not Frank Gore @Frank_Gore SF Running Back (Parody Acct.)