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The 10 Worst Officiating Decisions The Sports World Has Ever Seen

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You Think This Was Bad?


Last night’s contest between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks was a disgrace. Roger Goodell’s brilliant idea to use replacement referees for the 2012 season hit a breaking point last night. The Seahawks won the game on a last-second heave from Russell Wilson that found the arms of Golden Tate as time expired. However, Tate pushed Sam Shields to the ground, preceded to “rip” the ball from the grasp of MD Jennings, and score the game-winning touchdown – just overlook the fact that Jennings intercepted the ball, and that the officials simultaneously ruled it a touchdown and touchback.

What we saw last night was one of the biggest atrocities in the profession of officiating; however, it wasn’t the most egregious by any stretch of the imagination. Even though this game was a complete and utter joke, it was Week 3 of the NFL season. It’s highly unlikely this game will make or break the seasons of the Packers and Seahawks, and they have plenty of time to overcome or falter down the stretch.

Imagine if this game was the deciding factor of crowning a champion, pitching a perfect game, a gold medal, or a Stanley Cup champion. That, my friends, is way worse than what the Packers and their fans had to deal with last night.

Here are the 10 worst officiating decisions in the history of sports. Obviously, by only selecting ten gaffes, I am missing some other pathetic calls, but these are legendary.

Without further ado, ten calls that will make Packer fans a little less depressed today.

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10. Brett Hull in the Crease


I know as much about hockey as these replacement referees know about refereeing. Ergo, I will rely on the words of my great friend Eric Ryan to describe why this play was essentially the NHL’s version of the “Tuck Rule”

"Cheated, but not defeated" was the chant in Buffalo after Brett Hull's toe nail grazed Dominic Hasek's crease to decide the 1999 Stanley Cup. Horrible interpretation of the rule and therefore a bad call? Absolutely. But was interfering with the goaltender? Not a chance.

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9. Thanksgiving Coin Snafu

Coin Flip

This isn’t so much about a call per say, but rather the embarrassing nature of screwing up a coin toss. I remember exactly where I was when Phil Luckett misheard Jerome Bettis, giving the Lions the ball to start overtime and winning. This abomination changed the coin toss rules forever, ya know, since it’s so hard to do.

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8. AJ Pierzynski Does AJ Pierzynski Things

Getty Images

AJ Pierzynski is one of baseball’s most hated players, and look no further than the 2005 ALCS for the reasons why. As a White Sox fan, I love this play, but AJ easily struck out. By reaching first base on the “dropped” third strike, it extending the inning for Chicago, to only win on a walk-off double by Joe Crede later that inning.

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7. The Entire 2002 Western Conference Finals

SI Kids

Do I even need to go into depth why the 2002 Western Conference Finals was a disgrace? No? Ok, thanks.

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6. Jeffrey Maier Aids Derek Jeter

Sports Illustrated

The original Bartman. Jeffrey Maier was just a kid attending a playoff game. Little did he know, he would go down in infamy as the best fan the Yankees ever had. Maier clearly reached over the right field fence to bring a Derek Jeter home run into the crowd instead of Tony Tarassco’s glove. Jeter’s legend was born and the Orioles went into baseball depression for years.

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5. Colorado Has Five On It

Columbia Tribune

Giving a team five downs is like giving a team five timeouts - - right, Jim Harbaugh? This faux paux aided the Buffaloes to claim a share of the National Championship in 1990, which is why it is such a memorable blunder.

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4. The Imperfect Game


I don’t need to go in-depth on Jim Joyce’s call on the imperfect game; he did a good enough job of that himself when he said “I kicked the **** out of it. I cost that kid a perfect game”

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3. "Hand of God"

Sports Illustrated

For as little as I know about hockey, I know less about soccer. So when I know who you are and what play you are referring to when I hear the phrase "hand of God", you know it's a big deal. In the 1986 World Cup Final against England, Maradona's first goal was aided by a handball that was uncalled; ergo, the whole "hand of God" thing.

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2. Don Denkinger Blows Game Six

Ronald Modra - Sports Illustrated

Denkinger completely whiffed by calling Royals’ Jorge Orta safe on a close play at first place, propelling the Royals to rally and win Game 6 and defeat a deflated Cardinals team in considerable fashion in Game 7.

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1. 1972 Olympic Gold Basketball Game

Rich Clark

If there has ever been an example of the phrase “third time’s a charm”, this would be it. The USSR was given three separate inbound passes, with the third one giving the USSR the 51-50 win over the United States. The whole story is pretty fascinating, so if you are unfamiliar with it, you should check into it.