January 19, 2001. A date that will live on in infamy for Raiders fans. No, not because it was my birthday, but because it was the day NFL official Walt Coleman came onto the field after a booth review and made the one of the worst rulings in NFL history.
It was the Tuck Rule.
Charles Woodson came on the blitz and hit Tom Brady, knocking the ball out. Linebacker Greg Biekert recovered the fumble and the game was to be over. But the word came down from on high that Walt Coleman was to review the play. He reviewed it and returned to the field, calling upon the rarely utilized Tuck Rule to say it was instead an incomplete pass.
The Patriots kicked the field goal, took the game to overtime, and then won it. From there they headed to their first Super Bowl.
Walt Coleman never officiated another Raiders game.
Saturday will be 19 years since that fateful day. In that time Coleman has officiated 261 games — none of which featured the Raiders. And even the Tuck Rule has long since been removed from the NFL rulebook.
Next week will be the Pro Bowl. There Walt Coleman will take the field as an NFL official for the last time. He will officiate for the first half and then call it a career. And as fate would have it, currently there aren’t even any Raiders players named to the Pro Bowl roster. In fact, they’re the ONLY team in the NFL to not have a player in the Pro Bowl. Fancy that, eh? So he may be able to keep his streak completely intact.