Golden Tate now fully acknowledges getting away without a penalty on the controversial final play of the Seattle Seahawks' victory over the Green Bay Packers on Monday night but says the suggestion that he was trying to cheat is unfounded.
"A lot of people would just like for me to come out and say, 'I did not catch that ball,'" Tate said Wednesday, according to the Seattle Times, referring to the 24-yard touchdown reception he was credited with instead of an interception for Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings, who got his hands on the ball first.
After the game Monday night, Tate said, "I don't know what you're talking about," when ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters asked him whether he had pushed off against Packers defensive back Sam Shields.
But after watching the replay, he's telling a different story.
"The evidence shows on the film. But I never had intentions on cheating. I wasn't trying to cheat. I was competing, it was in the moment," he said, according to the Seattle Times. "Things are happening so quick. I honestly didn't even notice I did. I didn't try to hurt him or push him down to the ground, but it happened. It was just a reaction kind of thing. ...
"As far as pushing the defender, I was caught up in the moment, playing football. At that point, it was just like backyard football -- find a way to get the ball. I didn't intentionally try to shove him to the ground," he said, according to the newspaper.
The call became a rallying point for players, coaches and fans frustrated with three weeks of replacement officials working regular-season games. Every football pundit in the country has given his take on the final play. Even President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney have expressed their views on Tate's touchdown and the replacement officials.
And stuck in the middle was the 5-foot-10, third-year wide receiver out of Notre Dame whose only crime was getting away with a blatant offensive pass interference shove on Shields and then jumping with four other Packers to try to make a play on the final heave of the game.
Side judge Lance Easley called it a touchdown citing simultaneous possession, while back judge Derrick Rhone-Dunn waved his arms to stop the clock. Referee Wayne Elliott announced the play would be reviewed and, after coming out from under the hood, said the ruling on the field of a touchdown stood.
This is the second straight week Tate has found himself the center of attention after an on-field incident. Last week it was a crushing block on Dallas linebacker Sean Lee that drew Tate a $21,000 fine that he is appealing.
The criticism and debate that came with Tate's block on Lee seems tame compared to the vitriol being thrown toward him for the disputed touchdown.
"I definitely believe everyone knows who Golden Tate is now," Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said.
Tate estimated he picked up an additional 5,000 or 6,000 Twitter followers in the past few days and didn't need to see the constant loop of replays and deliberation on television because the few times he checked his Twitter account told him just how hot the issue was.
It wasn't always a pleasant read.
"There are moments where it's been tough, but when you have family in the locker room and in this building, it makes it easier," Tate said. "It hasn't been too bad. My feelings have been hurt a little bit on Twitter but it's whatever."
Asked later what some of those things were, Tate gave a few details.
"I've been called a cheater, I don't have any dignity, I'm not a Christian, a lot of hurtful things," he said.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he thinks Tate has handled the situation well considering he was being asked for his reaction only seconds after the game ended.
"I thought he handled himself as well as he could considering the craziness of the circumstances," Carroll said. "I've been with him. He's one of my guys that I hang around with a lot, and we've gone through this to make sure he's solid and all. I think he's going to be just fine. I think he's very humble and excited to be in this opportunity."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.