Referee Apologizes To Seahawks For Super Bowl

So, did Bill Leavy wake up in the morning and wonder, “What can I do to inflict pain upon Seahawks fans today? Maybe a little salt in the wound, then cauterize it with a welding torch?” Talk about a sadist.

Leavy is an NFL official who happened to referee Super Bowl XL. That’s the one the Seahawks lost 21-10 to the Steelers, a defeat that many fans still blame on the officials. Anyway, on Friday, Leavy appeared at Seattle’s training camp, which is standard procedure to help teams get ready for the season.

During a session with the media, he volunteered, “It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game and as an official you never want to do that. It left me with a lot of sleepless nights and I think about it constantly. I’ll go to my grave wishing that I’d been better. I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn’t good enough. When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It’s something that all officials have to deal with, but unfortunately when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl it’s difficult.”

Let’s consider the impact of the officials on that Super Bowl. As The Seattle Times remembers:

— Receiver Darrell Jackson was called for offensive pass interference during a play, in which he caught a Matt Hasselbeck pass in the end zone. Seattle settled for a field goal instead of a 7-0 lead.

— The Seahawks appeared to have stopped Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at the goal-line plane on his 1-yard score late in the first half that gave the Steelers a 7-3 lead. Leavy upheld the call after a replay review.

— Early in the fourth quarter, tackle Sean Locklear was called for holding on a pass completion that would have put the Seahawks at the Pittsburgh 1, poised for the tying touchdown. After the penalty, Hasselbeck threw an interception.

— Hasselbeck was called for an illegal low block and given a 15-yard penalty on a tackle after the interception.

Those calls ranged from questionable to absurd, but they weren’t why Seattle lost. Off the top of my head, these are some of the things I remember from the contest:

— Jerramy Stevens dropped a pass in the end zone.

— Seattle threw an interception in the end zone and had a drive that reached the 1-yard line scuttled by a penalty.

— Pittsburgh scored on a 75-yard run and a 43-yard receiver-option pass. The pass was thrown by Antwaan Randle-El, who was a quarterback in college. You think the Seahawks should have been prepared for that?

— And, perhaps most tellingly, Seattle sent something like four punts into the end zone instead of pinning the Steelers deep in their own end. Is there anything more basic than keeping a punt out of the end zone? It’s an example of how the Seahawks failed to do the things that win games.

But the fact is that all of this happened more than four years ago. Presumably, most Seahawks fans had moved on. Until Bill Leavy decided to bring it up again.

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