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Tagliabue criticizes officials

Posted: Wednesday, January 08, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) -- NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Tuesday the officiating errors made at the end of the NFC wild-card game between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers were ''totally unacceptable.''

Tagliabue said the league is already looking into ways to avoid a recurrence of the errors that prevented the Giants from attempting a potential game-winning 41-yard field goal in their 39-38 loss to the 49ers on Sunday.

The league admitted Monday that the officiating crew failed to call a pass interference penalty against San Francisco on the final play of the game.

''What happened at the end in terms of the breakdown of officiating was totally unacceptable to us and it shouldn't have happened with the mechanics already in place,'' Tagliabue said in a radio interview on Sporting News Radio.

''We are going to be thoroughly reviewing how the breakdown occurred and make certain that it doesn't happen again,'' he said.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Tagliabue was not available for further comment Tuesday night.

The pass interference penalty against Niners defensive end Chike Okeafor would have created offsetting penalties -- New York was flagged for an illegal man downfield -- and given the Giants another chance to kick the field goal.

The Giants botched the first attempt because of a bad snap, which forced holder Matt Allen to throw a pass to guard Rich Seubert, who was eligible on the play.

Tagliabue said there were plenty of mistakes in the game by all the participants.

''I'm sure that everybody feels that there were some breakdowns in that game and I'm sure Steve Mariucci feels that his club broke down in the first half and the Giants didn't perform in the second half like they did in the first and that's part of football,'' Tagliabue said. ''On the officiating point, it shouldn't have happened and we are reviewing it thoroughly.''

Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said the team really didn't care.

''At this point, unless someone tells us to get on a plane and go to San Francisco to replay the final play or replay the game, what difference does it make,'' Hanlon said Tuesday. ''It's unfortunate the guys (officials) made mistakes at the end of the game, but that's not the reason we lost the game.''

Hanlon said the only thing the Giants would like to see come out of the error would be for the league to find a way to avoid future officiating mistakes at the end of the game.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Assemblyman Anthony Impreveduto wants the league to allow the state to host a Super Bowl by 2006 and called on the head of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which runs Giants Stadium, to begin legal action against the NFL.

''New Jersey taxpayers may have been cheated of tax revenue the state would have earned from players' income and other Giants-related enterprises had the team advanced in the playoffs,'' Impreveduto said in his letter to George Zoffinger, the sports authority president.

Zoffinger said he could not comment until he speaks with Impreveduto.



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