For years now I have been telling those that want to learn the rules of the game to stop listening to game announcers that think they know it all. This pre-season has been a study in how head coaches, play by play men, and color analysts don’t have a clue about the rules. With so much scrutiny of the replacement officials, who have done a poor job of communicating, it has exposed these ex-players and legends of broadcasting.
Last night in the Giants game there was a very awkward moment for the officiating crew. If you have ever had the honor of being on the field to officiate the game, you knew exactly how it all happened. The Referee has one sole responsibility on a punt play, and that is the safety of the kicker. He does not see anything else but what happens to the kicker and so he must rely on his crew to explain what they saw, and then must interpret this according to the rules and make his decision. This is where the disconnect and the slow down of the pace has resulted. On the play from last night a side judge throws a flag BEFORE THE KICK, which means it is a pre-snap, live ball foul, before possession has changed. After the END OF THE KICK, when possession has changed, there was another flag thrown some 40 yards downfield. The officials need to huddle to explain the two fouls to the Referee, and then he must give the coaches their choices, if any exist. This, unfortunately, sometimes turns into a game of telephone where too many people are speaking at once, and the Referee can’t correct anyone because he saw none of it. The choices were to take the PRE-KICK penalty for illegal motion, a 5 yard penalty and have the Giants re-kick, or take the POST POSSESSION penalty and have the 15 yards added to the end of the run. The announcement was atrocious, but ultimately the call was correct. The announcers wondered how a personal foul turned into a 5 yard penalty…again the announcement was the mistake, not the application of the rule.
The second moment came at the very end of the game when the Giants player intercepted a ball at the one and downed himself in the end zone. Coach Coughlin wondered aloud last night that he didn’t see the player go out of bounds at the one, and he had no answers as to how the ball could be placed where it was. The answer is something called the momentum rule. When a player completes the act of gaining possession in the field of play and his original momentum takes him into the end zone, the ball is spotted at the spot he first gained possession. This rule is used anywhere from the 5 yard line to the goal line.
Believe me I am not picking on Bob Papa or Carl Banks. Dan Dierdorf made a big splash a few weeks back about how the officials screwed up running an un-timed down at the end of the first quarter, and how in his 40 years around football he had never heard or seen such a thing. Never seeing something in person does not mean it isn’t covered in the rules. I have actually seen this before in a Giants-Panthers game a few years back. The point of the rule is that if you accept a penalty, and not the result of the play, then the play never happened and it must be replayed under the same circumstances. The one in the Giants-Panthers game allowed for Carolina to punt WITH the wind instead of being forced to switch sides and kick into the wind. In that game John Fox knew the rule, explained it the regular officials at the time, and got his way.
I think the announcers are so poised to pick on the replacements that they are very quick to point out anything they think is wrong, even while they butcher players numbers, names, positions, and explanations of rules.
I believe the replacements need to go for the simple reason they are not the most qualified people available, and this is not a reality show seeing how quickly you can turn the average official into an NFL official.