Nearly 10 months removed from the call that brought him into the national spotlight while serving as a replacement official for a Monday night game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, Lance Easley was back in the Seattle area on Sunday as he served as an umpire for Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s celebrity softball game.
Easley infamously called a touchdown 0n a last-second Hail Mary from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate to hand the Seahawks a 14-12 win over the Packers when it appeared as though Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings had intercepted the ball.
Easley posed for pictures with Tate and made a few questionable calls on the base paths that led to arguments from both teams at Sherman’s softball game Sunday. Wilson stormed out to first base to confront Easley after a close play at first and subsequently picked up first base and took it with him (following in the footsteps of former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon).
It was a light-hearted moment for the ref who is praised in Seattle and loathed in Green Bay for his call to end the Monday night game. The “Fail Mary” is one of the lasting images from last season and served as the final straw to bring a resolution between the league and the referee’s union putting an end to the replacement officials. Despite being thrust into the limelight, Easley remains steadfast that his call was the right one and says he wouldn’t change anything about the game or the ensuing fallout.
“I wouldn’t change anything,” Easley said. “I can’t. The NFL upheld it. I’ve looked at plenty of video. I’ve talked to my replay guys, and there was nothing that could turn it over.
“It was just one of those calls that will live in NFL history.”
Easley said the scrutiny of the replacement officials in the media was something they were aware of and that it affected his decision-making process on the play.
“If I regret anything I probably would have talked it over a little bit with my partner,” Easley said. “I thought he saw the same thing but because of the media and the way they were getting after us every week and the pressure, I thought to myself ‘OK, I know what I have. If we talk about it the media is going to crucify us like look at those idiots, they don’t know what they’re doing.’”
“When they both went up and started to come down I said ‘oh no, this is happening in front of 18 million people on TV on Monday night. Everybody’s watching this,’” Easley said.
Easley still believes he made the correct call. He probably didn’t. However, one thing Easley said is correct. The play was incredibly rare. Two players coming down simultaneously with a pass in the end zone on the last play of a game is an incredibly unique play for any referee to handle.
“I knew how bizarre the play was. I’d never seen it. I was confirmed by that by calling the NFL office the next morning and saying ‘have you seen this play before? No.’ Everybody, head coaches – I have not met anybody that’s said ‘oh yeah, I saw that play the other day’ or ‘I saw it in 1965, Bears vs. Vikings.’ Nobody has seen it. It’s not on TV, not on film, otherwise you would see it. Players, coaches, all of us fans, we know it’s never happened before so I just happened to be stuck in the middle of it,” Easley said.
“It probably will never happen again, just like the Immaculate Reception.”