Lang Says Players Could Take Action If NFL Refs Issue Continues
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By Christy Strawser
CBS Detroit Managing Editor
DETROIT (97.1 The Ticket) On the long flight back for the Green Bay Packers following the team’s 14-12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, players debated going on strike or taking a knee on every play in upcoming games if the replacement referee issue isn’t solved.
That’s according to Packers guard TJ Lang, a Royal Oak, Mich., native who issued an infamous anti-NFL Tweet after the game that said “** It NFL. Fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs.”
Many believe the Packers loss was caused by the worst referee decision in NFL history, and players got down to the nuts and bolts of what to do next on the plane, Lang said.
Lang said incensed players decided they’re willing to go to great lengths to show their displeasure about the replacement ref situation.
“Whatever it takes, it’s just a total embarrassment to everybody watching the game, the players in the game, it’s not fun to be part of something like that … If it keeps going on, it’s going to get ugly,” Lang said during a Tuesday afternoon interview on the Valenti & Foster show on 97.1 The Ticket.
He added: “Going into a game worrying about the refs more than the other team, it’s a problem. The NFL, the commissioners, if they don’t take action after last night … That should be the last straw.”
He added he didn’t regret his angry Tweets — which some are calling the most re-Tweeted lines in sports history — though he does regret using the “F-bomb.”
“Personally, I think more people need to speak up,” Lang said, adding players are too afraid of fines to say what they really believe.
He added it’s hypocritical for the NFL to “preach integrity, character, player safety,” and allow unqualified referees on the field whose calls could actually injure players.
“We were furious, man, as soon as we got into the locker room we turned the TVs on, it was just heartbreaking to have the game taken from us like that,” he said. “We put too much effort, blood, sweat and tears into this game to have it taken from us.”
So were the descriptions of 20 angry players throwing things at the TV after the game accurate? “It is accurate,” Lang said, adding, “I’ve never been part of anything like that, it’s hard to blame officials for that loss, you never want to use that excuse … but after we saw the replay and all the reaction from the newscasters on ESPN … We got robbed.
“It was kind of embarrassing to be part of it, everybody was furious, a lot of guys are trying to take the high road, but it’s hard to do when there’s that much emotion into one game. To have the win actually stolen from you? It’s frustrating.”
Co-host Terry Foster said fans, even those in Detroit where Green Bay isn’t exactly a favored topic, felt the team’s pain.
“I don’t think it matters if you’re a fan of the Packers or not, everybody clearly saw that last play was an absolutely blown call,” Lang said. “It’s just emotionally straining. I woke up today kind of feeling the same way I did last night, just kind of dumbfounded that outcome played out the way it did.”
Today is a day off for the Packers, but many are wondering how they’ll come back from such a devastating loss. Lang said it is possible.
“Emotionally it’s just heartbreaking to have a game come down to that … it’s tough to get over, but as professionals you’ve got to find a way to move on,” he said.
But he’s not exactly over it, going on to say he doesn’t understand why refs didn’t take more time during the game to review the controversial play. The call was reaffirmed by the NFL Tuesday.
“Did they really look at it? What’s going on?” he recalled thinking after the call.
Lang added a number of bad calls have been piling up since the season began, adding, “If the NFL doesn’t step up and do something about it now, it’s just going to get worse.”
So, who does he blame? “It all starts with the owners, commissioners,” Lang said, adding, “The refs that we have right now, they don’t have the experience to make the proper calls, you can tell by watching every single game they’re having a hard time … They just asked a bunch of random guys to go out there.
“It’s clear that everybody, fans, players, hopefully the owners, realize it’s a problem, we can’t keep going on this way. It’s frustrating to have to go out there are worry about the refs … We see how important it is now.”
He said the controversy is “turning the league into a joke.”
“It’s frustrating to see the owners, the commissioners, aren’t taking any action toward it … The NFL needs to take action, it’s hard to blame these guys, it’s total confusion out there at some points for these guys. You just asked a couple of guys who have never reffed an NFL game to go out there and be perfect.”