Tate’s catch spins time-warp tumblers

September 30, 2012 

Seattle Seahawks players will wear a commemorative patch next season recognizing the 25th anniversary of Golden Tate’s “Simultaneous Possession” touchdown catch, the team announced Saturday.

The controversial touchdown pass to Tate, a late-blooming superstar who this past summer was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, proved to be a pivotal play for the 2012 world champions. Buoyed by the 14-12 victory over Green Bay, the Seahawks went on to finish the regular season with a 15-1 record.

In his recently released memoirs, “Stuff I Forgot To Mention In My Last Autobiography,” former Seattle coach Pete Carroll notes that the controversial catch remains a prominent theme of the weekly motivational speeches he gives to world leaders.

“It turned out beautifully for us,” Carroll, 86, recalled last week. “I look back on that night and remember how totally cool it was. Not the weather – the weather was beautiful – but the moment. The moment was cool and beautiful and perfect, even though it obviously wasn’t perfect, which is kind of what made it so perfect in a beautiful way.”

Fans in Green Bay saw the play differently. They submitted a petition, with 2.5 million signatures, demanding that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reverse the result of the Seahawks-Packers game. When Goodell didn’t budge, dozens of Packers fans gathered in a tailgating lot outside Lambeau Field for a hunger strike.

The strike lasted seven minutes.

Tate’s catch began a stunning descent of a 2012 Packers team that would lose star quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Nov. 4. (Citing injuries to his ribs, elbows, shoulders, knees, neck, ears, eyes, nose and throat, Rodgers retired after the Arizona Cardinals sacked him 12 times in the first half.)

“You might find this hard to believe, but the Packers had been a very good team until that Monday night in Seattle,” said NFL historian Mel Kiper III. “They just never recovered from what they thought was a terrible judgment call by officials who weren’t qualified to work games.”

For the first three weeks of the 2012 season, officiating crews had been locked out in a labor dispute over “pension plans,” which were considered common perks for vested employees during the early years of the 21st century.

With negotiations at an impasse, officials who came to be called replacement refs were summoned. Their challenging ordeal was explored in the 2015 documentary “Flag Throwers: I Got 57 Red Jersey For Holding – No, Wait, Make That 62 In The White Jersey.”

Responding to the furor over the replacement refs, the NFL and the incumbent officials achieved a compromise within hours of Tate’s touchdown catch.

“We got a bum rap,” replacement ref Wayne Elliott recalled in a 2022 interview. “People said we couldn’t make heads or tails of any situation. That’s unfair. We worked. We studied. We came to know that heads is the side of the coin with the head on it, and tails is the side of the coin without the head on it.”

While some national commentators called Seattle’s victory “tainted,” the Seahawks used the controversy as a rallying point.

“There’s a fine line – one letter – between tainted and sainted,” says the man who threw the pass to Tate, Washington Gov. Russell Wilson. “We were down with a few seconds left on the scoreboard clock, and when the scoreboard clock expired, we were up. It was one of those plays underscoring all that is possible in the game of life.”

Wilson, expected to launch a national-office campaign in a state where support for president Richard Neuheisel is tepid, has fond memories of the 2012 Seahawks. Their Super Bowl XLVI victory over Houston hinged on his lone pass attempt of the second half, a short lob that Tate, “the Golden Retriever,” converted into an 84-yard touchdown.

Wilson’s ground-breaking performance as a rookie Super Bowl quarterback was exceeded only by backfield teammate Marshawn Lynch, whose 2-yard run on a fourth-and-1 play literally broke the ground underneath the Louisiana Superdome playing field.

“Good times, that season,” said Lynch, who found success after football as an actor in such popular movies as “Beauty and the Beast Mode,” and “Beast Blanket Bingo.”

The commemorative patch will make its debut during the Seahawks’ annual “midnight madness” season opener against the London Blast at Bimbo’s Red Sauce Field. It will be worn both on the Seahawks’ new turquoise and burnt sienna home jerseys, and on their traditional amber and powder blue road jerseys.

“We wanted to do something to honor the most important of Seattle sports moments,” said Seahawks president Henry Hasselbeck. “There was some consideration about building a monument to everybody who was around the ball, but that would’ve meant nine statues. The cost of bronze these days made that prohibitive.”

The Seahawks were sold in 2029 to Seattle sports magnate Chris Hansen, who purchased the franchise after longtime owner Paul Allen revealed plans to devote more time to his hobby of space travel.

john.mcgrath@ thenewstribune.com

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