NFC-AFC PRO BOWL
Seattle receiver Darrell Jackson's near-touchdown against Pittsburgh defensive back Chris Hope in the Super Bowl was the talk of Pro Bowl practices yesterday.
Chambers, Sharper differ
Ironically, the receiver thinks Jackson's push-off was a penalty and the DB thinks it was OK
>> Injury may keep Alexander out of Pro Bowl
WHEN Seattle receiver Darrell Jackson was called for offensive pass interference against Pittsburgh safety Chris Hope in the Super Bowl, six points were negated and sides immediately taken.
Of course, Steelers fans loved the call and Seahawks fans hated it. As for neutral observers from around the league? The early assumption was that players would align based on the positions they play. But the reactions of two here for Sunday's Pro Bowl blow that theory to bits.
"I thought it was a push-off, because (Jackson's) arm was extended," Pro Bowl rookie and Dolphins receiver Chris Chambers said after the AFC's first practice yesterday at the Ihilani Resort. "The arm was extended, and (Hope) kind of jerked back. I thought it was a good call.
"I'm going to step away from the receivers and say it was a good call."
Third-time Pro Bowl player and Vikings safety Darren Sharper went the other way.
"That was a touchdown," he said after the NFC workout. "And I'm a defensive player. I can go ahead and swallow my pride and say that was a touchdown."
Sharper was told of Chambers' take.
"That's good to know," the ninth-year pro said. "If he tries to push off on me like that in the Pro Bowl, I'll say, 'You know that's a flag, go ahead and admit it. Tell the referee to give that touchdown back.' "
Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren might appreciate the irony, but probably not the humor.
"We knew it was going to be tough going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn't know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well," Holmgren told a gathering of 15,000 fans at Qwest Stadium on Monday, a day after several official's calls went against the Seahawks in the Steelers' 21-10 win.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger even admitted to TV host David Letterman that he doesn't think he got the football over the goal line on another controversial play that went in Pittsburgh's favor.
Even more than usual, NFL officials were on the hot seat all season. The Super Bowl only amplified that.
Two other controversial calls -- a blocking below the waist penalty against Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck and a holding call that negated a key long gain -- also went against the Seahawks.
Pro Bowl players from the Super Bowl teams weren't scheduled to arrive in Hawaii until last night, but other all-stars talked yesterday about the league's officiating.
Bengals' offensive tackle Willie Anderson is a 10-year veteran.
"Holding's definitely changed since I came in the league," he said. "We can't throw guys down, and in years past that was considered part of football. As long as your hands were in the framework of the jersey, it wasn't considered holding. Now it is."
Colts offensive tackle Tarik Glenn said officiating mistakes are a part of the game.
"I think you just have to do your best to keep (defenders) away from the quarterback. You can't really be worried about what the officials are going to call," he said. "I think (officiating is) consistent enough where there's not a huge controversy. I don't hear teams ranting and raving about it every game. There might be a couple games where they miss a call here or there and it's going to be like that because they're human beings that officiate games."
Bucs' linebacker Derrick Brooks said a lot of players don't know the rules as well as they should.
"It's an area we can all get better at," the 11-year veteran said. "From the players' standpoint, understanding the rules. From the officials', applying it correctly. It's an area we can address from both sides."
Sharper and Anderson said the NFL does a lot to improve officiating, but it will never be perfect.
"When it comes to a game as big as a Super Bowl and plays can go either way, you never want to have that happen. But that's something that you have to live with, as a player or a coach, knowing that it is going to be weighed on a person's judgment," Sharper said. "That's why they brought in replay, to try to take away some of the error in judgment by the referees. But you can't go back and fix everything. You really want to make more plays than the other team so you don't have to worry about the referees coming into play."
Said Anderson: "Our league is on top of those guys making sure they do an accurate job. The good thing about it is after every game the league is officiating the officials. They have someone they report to so they have to do an accurate job."
Glenn was told of Holmgren's comments, for which the coach could be fined by the league.
"I'm sure there's always going to be gripes about calls, especially when the championship is on the line," Glenn said. "I don't fault him at all for being competitive and passionate about winning."
Injury may keep Alexander out of Pro Bowl
KIRKLAND, Wash. » Turns out dropped passes, penalties and disputed officials' calls weren't the only things going against the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
League MVP Shaun Alexander revealed yesterday he sprained his right foot during the Seahawks' championship loss to Pittsburgh Sunday.
"I didn't even know it happened, but it swelled up," he said, hours before he and six teammates got on a plane to Hawaii for this weekend's Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium.
Alexander said he will get treatment before deciding whether to play on the swollen foot. He got hurt while rushing 20 times for 95 yards in Seattle's 21-10 loss to the Steelers.
The league rushing champion and single-season record holder for touchdowns said he considered the Pro Bowl "an honor" he did not take lightly. He was selected for the game for the third consecutive season.
"If I can play, I'm going to play," he said. "I want to have fun with six of my friends one more time -- and hopefully not for the last time."