No matter the sport, referees make mistakes. That being said, it seems like teams from the state of Michigan seem to get jobbed by the refs more than anyone else.
Let’s take a look at ten notorious times the Great Lakes State felt the burn from the men in stripes (in no particular order):
1. Calvin Johnson’s game-winning touchdown catch that wasn’t
In a road game early in the 2010 NFL season, the Detroit Lions trailed the bears by five with less than thirty seconds remaining. Shaun Hill floated a 25-yard pass to a leaping Calvin Johnson in the back of the end zone for the win! Except – it wasn’t. In what has infamously come to be known as the “Calvin Johnson Rule” the referees called the touchdown off because of some ancient rule that was never heard of to that point and proclaimed that the receiver must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground. The video below is what you call a TOUCHDOWN. It took a while to get over this robbery.
2. Galarraga’s perfect game stolen
Detroit sports fans will surely never forget this one. In a game that was also in 2010 (two robberies in one year – brutal), then Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was trying to become just the 21st pitcher to ever throw a perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball in a June game against the Cleveland Indians. With one out left in the ninth inning, Indians batter Jason Donald hit a soft ground ball to the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera who quickly pitched it back to Galarraga at first base for what was quickly perceived as the final out. First-base umpire Jim Joyce incorrectly called the runner safe and everyone quickly realized, even Joyce himself, that it was the wrong call. The perfect game in Detroit was ruined. Watch below.
3. Illegally batted ball in Seattle
Ah, the Lions robbed again. This time it was in Week 4 of the 2015 NFL season. A 0-3 Lions team, given no chance to win, marched into the vaunted home of the Seattle Seahawks and gave them a game. Deep in the red zone on the Lions last offensive drive, Matthew Stafford hit Calvin Johnson who regrettably fumbled on a hit by the Seahawks Kam Chancellor on the way to the touchdown. The ball rolled into the end zone after the fumble and BATTED OUT OF BOUNDS CLEAR AS DAY in front of the ref watching. This is, of course, illegal. This, of course, was not called. Seattle wins. Jobbed once more.
4. Trey Burke’s block called a foul
Some sports plays, while not the deciding factor to a game, are often seen as the turning point that tips the scale in favor of one team or another. This play was exactly that. With about five minutes left to play in the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball title game, Louisville guard Peyton Siva went up for a layup after a fast break and Michigan’s Trey Burke was whistled for a foul after what looked like a clean block. Replays show – the block was clean and the call was wrong. This gave the Cardinals just the breathing room they needed to turn in a six-point win against the Wolverines. Watch below.
5. Michigan State’s “Pass Interference Game”
In a key rivalry matchup with Notre Dame in 2013, the Michigan State Spartans lost a tough one to the Fighting Irish by a score of 17-13. But it was the circumstances of the officiating that had many fans upset. The Spartans were called for an absurd FOUR defensive pass interference calls with only one of them being legitimate. The game ended up being their only loss of that season and my guess is instead of playing and winning the Rose Bowl that year, they may have been playing for a national title if the zebras didn’t have it out for them that day. Judge for yourself below.
6. The Bill Laimbeer “phantom foul”
The “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons are infamous as one of the toughest teams in NBA history and are lauded for their back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990. But how many of you know it should have been a three-peat? The Pistons made it to the 1988 NBA Finals as well and lost it to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games. Except it should not have been a Game 7. In the sixth game, the Pistons were down by 1 with less than thirty seconds to go when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar went for a hook shot and the Pistons’ Bill Laimbeer was highly questionably whistled for the foul. Jabbar hit both free throws and the Pistons lost the game and the following Game 7. Watch the BS foul below and the ensuing Laimbeer ref staredown…
7. Thanksgiving ruined by the refs
Thanksgiving 2012. Up by ten in the third quarter against the Houston Texans, the Detroit Lions were once again a victim of the blind and deaf. On a run play up the middle, the Texans Justin Forsett was wrapped up by two Lions defenders and you can clearly see his knee and elbow touch the ground. One problem – the whistle never blew. Forsett got back up and ran 81 yards for the score. No one this stands, right? Well, right after that, then-Lions coach Jim Schwartz loses his mind and throws a challenge flag which made the play unreviewable. You can’t make these things up…
8. GAME 163
The Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers were tied for the Central Division lead late into October and had to play a tiebreaker game in order to decide who advanced into the playoffs. In the top half of the 12th innings, the Tigers had one out with the bases loaded. Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge went up to bat and was hit by a pitch that clearly grazed his jersey. Except for the umpire somehow didn’t see it. The walk wasn’t allowed, no runs were scored for the Tigers and the Twins ended up winning it in the bottom half of the 12th. JOBBED.
9. Refs pick up flag in Dallas
Out of all the egregiousness on this list, this right here may very well be the most egregious. Leading 20-17 with 8:25 to play in the fourth quarter of the NFC Wild Card playoff, the Dallas Cowboys were called for a blatant defensive pass interference call down the field on Brandon Pettigrew. It was announced and all that. The Lions began to march up the field for their new spot. Then… the refs picked up the flag. The officials had reversed the call after the call was made and with no explanation. The Lions then shanked a punt on 4th and 1, allowing the Cowboys to have good enough field position to score the go-ahead touchdown and advance. Sickening.
10. Michigan football robbed in OT
OSU QB J.T. Barrett never got across the line of scrimmage and I will take that with me to the grave. Thanks, referees – for all the horse manure you have thrown in the direction of my great state over the years.