Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bad Mix: Player Safety Rules And Reality

Before we get too far down the road this week of Saints vs. Colts, let’s just put an uncomfortable fact right out on the table.

The Saints really shouldn’t be here.

The NFL, in a totally chicken-bleep move, decided to wait until Friday of last week to publicly admit that the refs had “missed one” in the NFC title game. A big one.


After fining Bobby McCray $20,000 for two hits to Brett Favre in that game, there was no way around the fact that the so-called “Brady Rule” apparently only applies to Tom himself.

Like many fans who watched the game, we instantly said to ourselves: “Hey what about the Brady rule?” when McCray viciously low-bridged Favre well after the ball had been released.

Referee Pete Morelli – certainly not blind, and with an unobstructed view of the hit – for some reason decided not to call it.

Which, in a vacuum of circumstances, is fine. Refs miss calls.

But I have a problem with the Pandora’s box of officiating contradictions the league has opened. And I certainly have a problem with the league being so scared to admit this on a Monday or Tuesday when emotions and discussion on the radio are more raw and fresh.

You don’t think it took a full week to figure out they missed that one, did you? Of course not. The league just wanted to let the outcome gain a semblance of legitimacy before they quietly slipped out the ugly truth.

You see, the “Brady Rule” is a PLAYER SAFETY rule. On its own, it seems reasonable. I understand that the league suffers when star players (read: QBs) go down with severe injuries.

When a rule like this is cooked up in April at league meetings, it seems reasonable. When this rule is implemented in the first pre-season games in August, it seems reasonable. When it gets applied through the course of a long 17 week season, it seems reasonable.

But when a trip to the Super Bowl hangs in the balance, a PLAYER SAFETY rule seems absurd to enforce to the letter of the law. Yet, it is a rule. And you know the saying: “Rules are rules…”

Pete Morelli had already called two 15 yarders on the Saints that day. It was more than most teams get called for in a championship game. To call a third, with an agitated cauldron of fans ready to direct their ire at you, on a play that totally changed the game’s momentum (interception), was simply too much for a flesh and blood human being to call.

These men, are not robots. (Possible exception: Hochuli.)

When an owner’s meeting rule at protecting the bottom line ($$$), ends up thrust into the key moment of a title tilt, you are going to get gaffes like this.

You could argue that Cardinals win over the Packers falls into the same category. Technically, Rodgers got face-raked on that game ending INT. Many weeks (if not most) that gets called.

Just not to end a playoff game.

The problem the NFL has unwittingly allowed to flourish like weeds in the rule book, is the notion that you can codify every play, every circumstance, every proscribed behavior on a football field.

This is why the “in the grasp rule” starts to conflict with the “tuck rule” which further muddies the “allowable intentional grounding rule outside the tackle box rule” and then makes it really hard to also keep a keen eye out for the “Tom Brady rule”.

Which is why it would be smart to go the other direction with the NFL rule book, and make things less specific. The reason you have referees on the field, is so they can use their judgement.

New rule: “Un-necessary roughness against the quarterback is a 15 yard penalty. The referee shall determine what constitutes un-necessary roughness.”

Period. That’s it.

Instead, I fully expect the NFL to go the other, wrong, direction. I now see a "Bobby McCray Amendment" to the Tom Brady Rule.

Go ahead, laugh. When you see it, you'll remember I said it first.


  1. Czabe, what happened to, "Let them play the game". Theres been plenty of times through out the season guys were fined, but a penalty wasn't called. Farve (the proper spelling, except in Mississippi) lost, thats it, its done, it's over with. That one play didn't decide the outcome of the game. As far as the face rake on Rodgers, after the ball came loose, not a penalty. The Vikes showed there true colors, AGAIN. They can't finish, along with a QB, who has shown he can't either in the later part of his career. Thats why Farve was a perfect fit in Minn. They were so much alike, no other reason. Nobody should be surprised by the outcome of the NFC Championship Game, I think we all knew it was coming, just a matter of when. Keep shanking um donkey. I love it. First time writter, love the show, and God Bless. WOZ from Milwaukee, WI.

  2. i dont mind the non-call during the call. i dont like the call a week after the game is over. To me, that is not officiating.
    Im not going to whine about the Rodgers hand to the face non call but that was just as bad and there was no "it should have been" a week later. It makes the NFL and Officials look bad.

  3. Learn the rules Czabe. The Brady Rule is to protect QB's from defensive players who are on the ground from hitting a QB low. It doesn't mean a defensive player can't hit a QB low, they just can't do it from the ground. I may not remember the play correctly but I don't think McCray came from the ground to hit Brett. Just wanted to clarify the rules for you. Don't want you sounding like some uninformed broadcaster like say, Stephen A. Smith. Honestly how did you get replaced by a retard like him?

  4. Both calls or non calls as it was sucked, but it happened and you live with it. You don't go back and try and make it better later cause it doesn't fix anything, it just purs salt in the wound and creates a chorus of "I told you so's". That call didn't have as much impact or any more than Peterson's fumble inside the 10, or Berrians fumble inside the 20. That's 6 points the Queens left on the field and you can't blame anybody for that but the Queens!

  5. I understand the sentiment out there that the Vikes have no one to blame but themselves. That's more than true. However, it's hypocritical to say Vikes fans shouldn't complain. I think everyone needs to try on the "hey, we got robbed" shoes. Games often turn on one play. If it's your team, the team you watch all year to get to that game, and the ref inexplicably doesn't make a call that's made all year, you have every right to be upset. Even Czabe, who has no love for Favre, can see this. For Packer fans it's the facemask. For Raider fans it's the tuck rule. I totally agree that officiating has become too complicated and should be simplified. No one wants the refs to be such a big part (with calls or non-calls) of the game.

  6. Neither the Saints nor the Vikings really deserved a chance to be in the SuperBowl. It could be argued that neither would be there if the NFL were allowed to suspend players who had positive drug tests. Both teams benefitted greatly from the fine state of Minnesota stepping in to overturn the preseason suspensions for the Vikes, which inevitably caused the NFL to hold off on suspending the Saints players who were caught as well.

  7. Let them play the game. McCray was pushed to the ground by an O-lineman who could do nothing else after he was beaten like a dirty door mat, but he kept himself going and found himself plowing into Favre's legs a tick after the ball left his hand. How does he know what's going on above him, he thinks he's sacking the QB, which is what he is paid to do. I think the no call is the right call.

  8. Here's another thought. Why do people go to NASCAR races? For the crashes of course. Football isn't much different, we all love the vicious hits. I miss the old days of QB's getting blindsided and looking like a spaaghetti noodle flying through the air. The violence of the game keeps folks in the seats. Otherwise let em play flag football, who'd pay to see that?