“Fail Mary” ref suffers from PTSD

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As the Packers and Seahawks prepare to square off in a game with slightly more on the line than their early-season Monday night meeting in 2012, the fumes of that bizarre evening still linger like Limburger for Green Bay fans.

It was the Fail Mary game.  The one that sparked the end of the officiating lockout.  The one that gave the Seahawks a victory via last-second pass to the end zone and a blatant shove by receiver Golden Tate, who caught the ball to secure the win.

More than two years later, the referee from that game is still affected by it.

I was completely under attack,” Lance Easley told Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports in a series of interviews regarding the moment and the aftermath.  Easley, who had previously battled depression, has had the illness spike in the past year or so as he tries to get past that one huge blunder on a national stage that resulted in widespread criticism, ridicule, and even death threats.

Easley explained that he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and that he has suffered panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, fear of leaving the house, and debilitating depression.

“A lot of people don’t understand mental health issues,” Easley told Wetzel.  And Easley is right.  Mental illness is no different than physical illness, but it nevertheless carries a stigma among the millions who never have had to deal with it.

“If you don’t struggle with it, I guarantee you there is someone in your circle of family or friends that are affected by it,” Easley said.  “It knows no boundaries.  Young, old, white, black, male, female. We know what people think, ‘You’re just lazy, you’re just making excuses.’

“Believe me, we all wish we could just flip a switch.”

Here’s hoping Easley and everyone else suffering from mental illness finds the switch, eventually.  And here’s hoping that the NFL will never again believe that it’s a good idea to keep playing games without the best of the best officials available to preside over them.

120 responses to ““Fail Mary” ref suffers from PTSD

  1. “And here’s hoping that the NFL will never again believe that it’s a good idea to keep playing games without the best of the best officials available to preside over them.”

    Is that because these “best of the best officials” do a better job or they just aren’t as easily affected by blowing huge calls? I’m going with the latter. Bet the ref who picked up the PI flag in the Detroit game is sleeping just fine!

  2. For all the crap the replacement refs got, they really weren’t that much worse than the regular ones. Look at the Dallas vs. Detroit game last week, and that’s a playoff game where only the best of officials are supposed to be calling the games.

  3. Viking fans have it worse. Paul Allen still shrieks “But you can take a knee and try a 55 yard field goal. THIS IS NOT DETROIT MAN, THIS IS THE SUPERBOWL” every night in his sleep.

  4. And here’s hoping that the NFL will never again believe that it’s a good idea to keep playing games without the best of the best officials available to preside over them.

    The the NFL needs full time refs. Along with letting go nearly half of what they have.

    Not going to happen with Dean Blandino and his ignorant ways running the show.

  5. Oh, yeah, because the regular refs would NEVER make a mistake like that. As far as I can tell, the refereeing is worse now than it was with the replacement refs.

  6. Yeah me too. Along with Lion fans. Cowboys fans. Raider fans. And every other person affected by bad calls.

    The NFL….sponsoring mental health issues with their convoluted rulebook and part time officials.

  7. If he’s that sensitive to criticism, maybe he shouldn’t have picked a job in the public spotlight. Can’t help but think he could get over it if he wanted to.

  8. My wife has PTSD stemming from a robbery at her work, But this disease comes from many different places. Its been 4 years, we still can’t watch the last seasons of Breaking Bad together.

    I feel sorry for this ref, he made a mistake and he is still living with the consequences.

    Maybe think of this next time your at one of your kids sporting events?

  9. What many many fans then, and now, don’t seem to get — is that the “regular” professional officials make a substantial and unacceptable amount of inexcusable mistakes that costs teams seasons, bettors money, human beings their livelihoods, etc.

  10. Depression is a huge issue in modern day America but it strains credibility to elevate what Mr. Easly is going thru up to the level of PTSD.

    Look, the guy made one of the biggest bone headed decisions on a national stage but the majority of people recognize the fact that he was in over his head as the main factor. That was on the NFL for paying amateurs for leverage.

    I wish Mr. Easly well but I recall that he used his status for promotional purposes later on so you can’t have it both ways.

  11. I bet there’s a lot of Cowboys and Lions fans that would actually prefer having the replacement refs. They seem far more competent than the idiots doing the job now.

  12. We question calls constantly. The NFL admits that key calls in playoff games were missed. Calls that played into the outcome of games.
    They admitted many times during the season that calls were missed.
    We all see cases where their ages and/or lacking athleticism causes officials to be unable to get even close to being in position to make calls. Especially on special teams and turnovers.

    Yet we hope the NFL never uses officials that are not the best of the best?

    That was one of the issues with the strike/lock out. We don’t have the best of the best. We don’t see poor refs disciplined or become employed.
    One season of poor quality, could have changed it all. The contract could have been changed and we could actually have the best of the best.

    Instead we call this mediocrity the best of the best.

  13. There isn’t any referee that can get through multiple games without missing something. It would be nice if the NFL had a quality-control oversight process/mechanism to take the pressure off of referees that shouldn’t be expected to see everything and perform perpetually perfectly. I appreciate his effort to try and identify what happened and to make the obvious call that seemed to make sense based on what he observed and as a result he did a fine job.

    And I appreciate and thank him for his courage in going out of his way to share his story and shed more background on his experiences which is helpful to gain perspective and understanding.

  14. The league doesn’t even have the best of the best refereeing games NOW, for crying out loud. You could put this PTSD guy into Jeff Tripplette’s spot and there wouldn’t be one ounce of difference in the results.

  15. I don’t think it would be as big of a deal for him if Green Bay fans would just let it go. It WAS a bad call, no doubt. But it happened over two years ago! Every article that even hints at bad officiating includes comments from a half a dozen Green Bay fans who still reference the event like it was yesterday. There are LOTS of examples of horrible officiating over the years. Time to move on.

  16. Replacement ref is the correct terminology. Yes it was a terribly call. But that lies on the commissioner for holding out and paying the real refs

  17. “Here’s hoping Easley and everyone else suffering from mental illness finds the switch, eventually. And here’s hoping that the NFL will never again believe that it’s a good idea to keep playing games without the best of the best officials available to preside over them.”

    Way to completely undermine the central theme of this post that mental illness is as as serious as physical illness. While we are at it, I hope my favorite restaurant doesn’t run out of ribs tonight.

  18. the real story is the NFL’s constant use of under qualified, old, out of shape men to determine the outcome of a football game…

  19. Next thing we hear about this guy will be about how much money he is suing the NFL for. PTSD my buttocks. Hey, I have PTSD from you blowing that call, where’s my money?

  20. While I wish him no ill will, dude was traveling the country making thousands from speaking engagements after that game and kept saying he made the right call.
    I will never joke about mental illness, but maybe it’s really the guilt of profiting off of the lie he continued to tell himself each day to justify the bank account.
    When your fame comes from a lie, one might have sleepless nights.
    Thank goodness that was regular season game. We’ve had enough post season controversy this year.

  21. “And here’s hoping that the NFL will never again believe that it’s a good idea to keep playing games without the best of the best officials available to preside over them.”

    Too late, the NFL put together the worst crews possible without any previous experience together for the entire 2014 playoff series.

    Don’t mix and match refs in the post season. Take the best crews from the regular season and give them work in the post season. It’s stupid to take a mixed crew and have them work together for the first time in a playoff game. At least it was fitting karma that the Cowboys lost thanks to the Calvin Johnson Rule.

  22. Come on. Easley played that for all it was worth, including being the ‘star’ of a Seahawks event and writing a book about it. No integrity.

  23. Lance Easley did everyone a favour, and the League knows it. This guy should be a hero to them.

    The real refs were back the following week, and have been screwing up calls ever since.

  24. Wow, I hope he continues to recover….
    And it was pretty embarrassing for the league the whole Circus that several week period….”Pass interference…. Number 48….Red!”
    Funniest thing ever it was like 6 weeks of live bloopers

  25. The “best officials available” would be full time, younger officials who still have keen eyesight, speed, and full time training. With that said, you did your best Lance and that’s all anybody could ask…and before everybody jumps down my throat as a homeboy, I thought it was an interception!!

  26. “And here’s hoping that the NFL will never again believe that it’s a good idea to keep playing games without the best of the best officials available to preside over them.”

    Like Jeff Triplette?

  27. I feel sorry for him, but at the same time why did the NFL hire refs with mental health issues?

  28. “by receiver Golden Tate, who caught the ball to secure the win.”

    You seem to be mis-remembering, because Green Bay caught that ball.

  29. “And here’s hoping that the NFL will never again believe that it’s a good idea to keep playing games without the best of the best officials available to preside over them.”

    The NFL bears responsibility for putting people like Easly in a position that is clearly over their heads. But after watching the officiating messes during teh first 2 weeks of the playoffs, “best of the best” is a term that does not come to mind.

    Maybe “The best we have right now”

  30. If anything, this year’s playoffs have proven that they STILL do not have the best officials possible. Maybe it has nothing to do with the guys and more to do with the rule book and/or training.

  31. no to sound insensitive, but maybe this profession isn’t for him, if he can’t put mistakes behind him. Also, this should be a warning flag for the NFL to screen for mental disorders. If a ref is scared of getting calls wrong and people being upset at him, wouldnt that mean he’d be more likely to make calls for the home teams

  32. going to softball games and writing a book really make me believe his story. (sarcasm). he is trying to keep his 15 minutes of fame going. also, he is an insult to people who had real tramatic experiences who have ptsd.

  33. Thanks for being informative in the article. There’s no way to put a positive spin on PTSD, depression, or anxiety. I was in Iraq for the 2003 invasion and after redeployment got the accusations of being lazy and that I should “just get over it.” As Mr. Easley described, it can’t just be turned off, and often resurfaces without warning even if has been managed in the past. I applaud you for using your platform as an opportunity for awareness rather than allowing attached stigma to remain unchecked.

  34. So that’s his excuse? He’s mentally unstable? Don’t lie man. Own up to it. You were paid off and we all could see it.

  35. The Fail Mary debacle was certainly a terrible call which directly affected the outcome of a football game.

    It occurred on game #3 of the regular season.

    Here we are, years later, and we see equal horrors. The only difference is, we see them in the playoffs, and we see the outrages committed by regular officials, not replacement refs.

  36. “If they can’t find the switch AP’s kids know”

    Wow making fun of mental illness and beating children. You’re a real d-bag

  37. He more than likely wouldn’t be going through this if the average Joe fan, thousands of them, did hound him constantly about the call.

    Was it a bad call? Sure. We’ve seen many of them as fans for and against the teams we follow. Everyone should be over it after the next day. As for the bettors and Vegas, that’s why it’s called gambling. Mental illness can come from many things.

  38. this guy is all about money. writing a book. softball game appearances. he has not “ran away” from this “tramatic experience” at all. now that his 15 minutes of fame are up, he gives inside info for a story(I assume he didn’t give the store for free) to try to keep milking it for all its worth. I’m sorry but it is impossible for any rational person do believe this idiot.

  39. Part of the problem is the technology has exceeded the standards the League uses. When a slo-mo replay can show much more clearly to the entire audience something that the human eye cannot determine in real-time, they need to change how they officiate.

  40. Stories like this are why people don’t take it seriously when people actually have PTSD.

    That guy, and the quack that diagnosed him are just pathetic.

  41. It doesn’t matter who caught it. The mistake that was made is the GB defender trying to intercept and be the stat hero, instead of batting it away…..like he was (supposedly) trained to do. Mistakes lose games.

    He’s no longer with the team.

  42. I was diagnosed with PTSD two years ago. My case is not severe, the severe cases often do not rehabilitate. There is no medication for PTSD, only symptom management.

    It is not just for witnessing atrocities in war, that’s the most common misunderstanding about PTSD I’ve experienced. I don’t bother talking about it with people because they A) don’t believe me and B) don’t want to learn about it.

    So many taboos surrounding mental health issues. My family is chock-full of them and even we can’t talk about it with each other.

    People just want to be understood, they don’t want pity. Sure, there will be the type of person that uses a diagnosis as a crutch, I’ve met them too. I’m frustrated with them too.

  43. wouldnt a ref who blew two critical calls at the end of that game want to forget about the whole incident if it bothers him that bad,why bring it up again? why didnt he man up and admit his mistake,it wouldnt have ruined his life. if he had a mental condition before the game why was he able to ref an nfl game in the first place and add extra stress in his live. money indeed does seem to come into play in all of this doesnt it.

  44. The Rule Book is harder to understand than Chinese Algebra. Some of their rules have so many sub-headings they read like the IRS Tax Code. I’ve seen Shakespeare’s Open Verse that’s easier to interpret, and I don’t know a darn thing about Iambic Pentameter.

    Yet we have World Class Athletes being chased downfield by retirement-aged Lawyers and Insurance Brokers.

    I wouldn’t bet a wooden nickel on the outcome of a Football game for the above reasons.

  45. For crying out loud, I must have some kind of ptsd, you must have some sort of ptsd, we all have some sort of ptsd. Sheesh, it’s never ending. By e1 now claiming to have ptsd, it has lost it’s way. Lost of money in ptsd these days.

  46. He made a bad call on national TV. Anyone watching the game knew it was a bad call. This morning I saw the Today Show segment with him and he had a huge photo of the play on display in his home. Really? If the experience depresses you so much, remove the stupid photo!!!!

  47. I guess if you haven’t been in combat you can’t have PTSD, huh? All of these mental health experts on PFT all of a sudden.

    He didn’t get PTSD from making the call either. He got it from constant harassment by Packer fans.

    And yes, he purposely lost his VP job at Bank of America so he could write a book and go to softball games to cash in on his 15 minutes of fame. Right?

    You all should be ashamed of yourselves.


  48. I for one call BS….. Sounds like a down on his luck guy that cannot ref anymore because of the horrendous call. If I remember correctly did he not ref some celebrity type flag football game last year, as well as make commercial up in PNW. I say investigate this guy if he is submitting for SS and disability.

  49. PTSD is not only from times of war. People can get it from many things. Witnessing a murder or horrific vehicle accident is a small example.

    PTSD can come from many things outside of war and battles. Everyone is not built the same and do not have to have the same experiences in order to suffer from PTSD.
    Events, tragic or mild by some perceptions, affect people vastly different.

  50. All the more reason to use replay for those kind of calls, especially a game ending or game determining type of call.

    The game is to fast for the officials to make good calls all the time. Guys are blazing down the field and the ref is running after the plays. His eyes are bouncing around while he tries to make a call ect.

  51. There are actually soldiers missing limbs and having been shot and then comes this guy trying to get sympathy over a bungled mess he created. Not only that he went on his little tour following the call on Good Morning America and others while signing pictures of his image. Now he he has PHD give me a break. Misses his 15 minutes.

  52. I feel bad for this guy. This was literally the worst-case scenario for the NFL during the lockout: a blatant incorrect call as time expired that switched who would win and lose the game.

  53. The Call in the GB – Seattle Fail mary game was on the refs… the call in the detroit – Dallas game was on the refs…. The call in the Dallas – GB game is a call in the rule book….

  54. If the worst thing that you do in your life is screw up a call in an NFL game, you’ve lived a pretty good life. Everybody screws up, keep moving forward.

  55. PTSD can only occur if a person was in a real, life threatening, situation.

    It doesn’t come from gross incompetence.

    Shame on the league for locking out the on field officials.

  56. Those replacement refs weren’t any worse than than those refs in that Detroit playoff game. Aren’t playoff refs supposed to be the best? Either they were blind or they were influenced somehow.

  57. I feel for Easley and hope he gets better, but GB has loss to the Seahawks since. What’s the reason for that?

    Is it possible that Seattle is just a better team?


  59. you can’t profiteer and promote something like easley has, then claim it ruined your life and caused ptsd. If it was an actual “tramatic” event he wouldn’t have used it and the popularity it caused to keep bringing it up and rehashing it and making public appearances and writing books. He is probably happy the packers are playing the seahawks again because he makes money off his fame and can sell his story to the news. the only problem is the “fail mary” is played out, so he has to now use his last ammunition which is claiming it ruined his life. he has loved his fifteen minutes of fame so much(that is pretty obvious) that he is probably depressed because he isn’t popular anymore. the call itself and the backlash easley loved and EMBRACED. you can’t have you cake and eat it too easley. pretty odd timing right before this game right? what the news couldn’t break when the packers weren’t facing the seahawks? lol what a clown. people, please don’t believe him.

  60. I live in California and Easley flew on the same flights as I did to go to Green Bay preseason game that he was working and I was going to see at Lambeau Field. We talked much of the time and he was excited to go to Lambeau Field for the first time. He had previously worked high school games and some small college games as an offical, so he had no “big game” experience as a major college or NFL referee. He seemed like a decent guy to me and quite gregarious.

    No doubt in my mind he made the wrong call on the play and wish he would have just come out and say “I blew it” and I’m very sorry. It would have been easier to swallow for many fans and probably or him in the longer term.

    However, in the most recent playoff game with the Cowboys and Packers, the NFL official was standing about eight feet when the ball Cowboy’s receiver Dex Bryant was trying to catch hit the ground and even bounced up in the air and he called it a catch! It took a challenge by the Green Bay coach to change that egregious error by a highly paid NFL professional employee. Doesn’t exude a lot of confidence in that official’s competence either, does it?

  61. He made the correct call on that play. It’s all of these “so called” best refs that are making all of the wrong calls or bad calls.

  62. whatjusthapped says:
    Jan 14, 2015 8:15 AM
    Depression is a huge issue in modern day America but it strains credibility to elevate what Mr. Easly is going thru up to the level of PTSD.

    Look, the guy made one of the biggest bone headed decisions on a national stage but the majority of people recognize the fact that he was in over his head as the main factor. That was on the NFL for paying amateurs for leverage.

    I wish Mr. Easly well but I recall that he used his status for promotional purposes later on so you can’t have it both ways.


    PTSD is Post Traumatic, not Post War, or Post Terror Attack, as we’ve come to see it. Anytime someone has a traumatic incident, they can get PTSD. I would say the crapstorm that he got after that game would easily qualify as a traumatic incident, that lasted over several weeks or even months. He probably still gets yelled at sometimes, by crazy/drunk fans if he is recognized.

    I have no problem believing that, maybe not right away, but as the backlash and hate flowed over time, PTSD came about. Especially considering what people are willing to say while anonymous on the internet.

  63. Refs make bad calls all the time, but this guy really took the cake on that play. He totally missed TATE shove the first defender (Sheilds?) to the ground,…then missed MD Jennings catch it only to have TATE reach in,…then looks at the other official and throws his hands in the air TD!

    He needs to let it go,…and stick to reffing JUCO and lower.

  64. Ok, I don’t like to diminish anyone’s mental capacity/incapacity, but this is a little over the top. I understand that the aftermath probably caused anxiety, depression and agoraphobia, but the diagnosis of PTSD is thrown around like candy by every little rinky-dink psychologist outside of the Veteran’s Healthcare System in today’s society. At the VA you literally have to shoot your psychiatrist at times to get that diagnosis. 40 years ago my sister watched my paranoid-schizophrenic mother commit suicide with .380 rifle to the roof of her mouth and she didn’t get so much as a day of counseling. Does she have PTSD? If you ask her, nope. But some guy that made a controversial call that a bunch of people in Wisconsin with no life made a big deal about has it? No way, not in a million years. By the way, I am a 100% permanently and totally disabled Veteran who spent two years as a volunteer helping Veterans navigate their way through problems with the VA Healthcare System, so I have seen plenty of PTSD and I find this pretty far-fetched. That’s my two cents anyway, I could be totally off base.

  65. I’m not qualified to judge whether or not this guy is suffering from PTSD. However, seeing him go to Seattle to “officiate” charity softball games, or write a book about his experience, then go on the talk show book tour….lends me to believe more that he’s milking his situation for attention more than anything else.

  66. I love the armchair psychiatrists in here. The man is brave enough just to admit having an illness, regardless of what it is, considering the number of ignorant, hateful people in this country.

    I for one praise him for saying what he said, regardless of how important or not important someone else says the situation is.

  67. Lots of pictures of him posing with his arms up in the air with the chicas. For a few, he’s wearing his referee uniform (like at a charity softball event).

    He’s going for the disability check and his claim of PTSD is an affront to those who have really suffered tragedies and are trying to cope with PTSD.

  68. All of the above but please NFL just let coaches challenge any damn thing they want. Same number of challenges, same penalty for a bad challenge and no more running under the hood. Just let the NY office review the play and tell the REF the outcome. How hard can that be for crying out loud.

  69. I wonder if Steratore will suffer PTSD for altering NFL history.


    No because he made the correct call.

  70. what a copout!!! this guy gets a call wrong and he is now effected by PTSD????
    what kind of an idiot is this guy?

  71. LOL. Disability lawyers at my firm see cases like this all of the time. This case screams fraud. The guy is too incapacitated to go to his job at Bank of America, but has no problems performing in his acting class.

    From Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

    He is on medical leave from his career at Bank of America. He has had suicidal thoughts, and has been in and out of mental health rehab as he copes with feelings of self-doubt, unworthiness and malaise.

    Now, Easley is focused on getting well. He tries to tune out the noise by limiting how much time he spends on his smartphone, preferring the authenticity of quiet time with friends and loved ones. He’s taking acting classes, following one of his passions.

  72. Dear Cowboys fans.

    Bryant did NOT maintain possession of the football when falling to the ground. Gravity is NOT a football move. You can say the rule is dumb, but the referees didn’t do ANYTHING other than follow the rule book. You can say the rule book did you guys wrong, but I don’t even really feel it did, because you are going to have 20 calls every year if you change it that the refs can make it a judgement call. Instead of the 1 or 2 plays every season or two.

  73. What about the mental distress he caused Packer World by missing the first call and getting the second one wrong? Oh the pain, the pain!
    Whatever death threats there were could just as easily come from gamblers anywhere in the country as from Green Bay fans.
    Naturally the call is going to be brought up this week just like the Ice Bowl game was brought up last week. Just stick your head in the sand for a few more days and you’ll be forgotten again.

  74. The call was the correct call. As you saw in last weekends game, the packer DB did not complete the catch, Golden Tate did !!! Touchdown Seattle !!!

    Quit whining packer fans, you are making fools of yourselves.

  75. Golden Tate did not catch the ball! The Packers DB came down with the ball for an INT and then Golden Tate grabbed onto the ball after the DB had already established possession with it. There was not simultaneous possession. The offensive pass interference that should have been called is a secondary issue on that play.

  76. For Pete’s sake – grow a set – become a man – get over it – the NFL is filled with guys just as incompetent as you are – you seem to have the resume material to join the clowns of the law firm of Hochuli, Tripplette, and Flag Picker Upper.

    If you are feeling so bad, just end it and let us move on. Otherwise, the NFL will love more of what they offer most – stupidity.

  77. As bad as the ‘replacement’ refs were – the real refs aren’t that much better in making the call – they are just more ‘positive’ that their mistakes don’t bother them.

    The ‘All-Star’ ref teams for the Playoffs are at total mistake. Official teams are just that teams – covering each other strengths and weaknesses and knowing how to communicate with each other. The All-Stars barely know how each other work.

  78. Other than the “tuck rule” call. This was the worst call that I ever saw in an NFL game. Even months after the game Lance Easley was still claiming that he made the right call.

    Poor Charles Woodson for being on the losing side in both of those games.

  79. He didn’t get it right…..not sure why he keeps saying that, regardless of what the league says.

    Aside from that I think he is full of cr@p…..

    Woe is me…….it gets old….

  80. The call was bad and EVERYONE new it.

    This guy is an idiot

    It shows that Wilson isn’t that good

    They got lucky playing the Broncos last year

    Karma is coming Seattle

  81. Seriously? At least put “PTSD” in quotes, and follow it with (air quotes).

    Never seen a made up illness get so much attention.

  82. “The Rule Book is harder to understand than Chinese Algebra”
    Just so you know there’s no such thing as “Chinese Algebra”. If you can do algebra here you can do algebra in China. Math is it’s own language, like music.

    To the Packer fans who say it could be gamblers issuing the death threats you’re right. It could be. But the problem isn’t WHO makes the death threats, it’s the death threats themselves. Over a GAME. A GAME!

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