bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: A big mess for the NFL on Thanksgiving

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As popular as the NFL is on any given day, Thanksgiving day is still one of the showcase days for the league. The last thing Roger Goodell and his cronies wanted to have was a major embarrassment on Turkey Day. Nevertheless, that’s what they had. The Detroit Lions lost their traditional tilt, this time to the Houston Texans, after a confusing turn of events involving a bad call, an automatic review, and a coach’s challenge ended with a bogus touchdown for Houston that helped them win the game.

Mid-way through the third quarter, the Lions were leading, 24-14, and the Texans had the ball at their own 19-yard-line. Justin Forsett caught a dump-off pass from Matt Schaub and took off. He was hit by two Lions defenders close to the 50, but popped back up and raced to the end zone. Referees signaled a touchdown. A replay very clearly showed that both Forsett’s elbow and his knee hit the ground when he was hit, meaning the call would be changed by the replay official. That is not what happened, however. Lions coach Jim Schwartz, almost before Forsett even reached the end zone, threw his red challenge flag, registering his disagreement with the touchdown call. The problem is that all scoring plays are automatically reviewed by rule. Not only are coach’s challenges unnecessary in this situation, they are actually against the rules. Throwing a challenge flag on a scoring play not only comes with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, it also makes it so that the play itself can no longer be reviewed. Instead of a reversal that would have given the Texans the ball at midfield, the touchdown call stood and the Lions lead was cut to three.

I do not expect that there are many out there who think that this rule is anything less than idiotic. I can accept the 15-yard penalty, although I think a delay of game call would make more sense, but the removal of the opportunity for review makes absolutely no sense at all. The purpose of the use of instant replay is to get the calls right, so deliberately eliminating that possibility from a play that would normally be reviewed is simply moronic. That said, I do have to take issue with some of the way this incident is being portrayed. Whether or not the rule makes sense, it is Jim Schwartz’ job to know the rules as they are currently written. He had to know that throwing that flag would cause things to go exactly as they went. He can complain that the rule is silly, and he would be correct, but there is no excuse for him throwing the flag. The refs did not cost his team the game, and the league didn’t either. He did.

To complete the mess, the NFL is not only considering changing the rule, but they are thinking of doing so during this season. What is this, NASCAR? The rule is stupid, but so is changing rules during the season. The offseason is the time for reviewing and changing rules. Is the league concerned that this might cost another team in a critical situation? If, after what just happened, another coach throws a challenge flag on a scoring play this season, that coach should not only lose his right to replay and get a penalty, he should be fired on the spot. Let’s not compound the wrongness of this rule by overreacting to it.

Bad sports, continued:

2) The NFL’s week was not going so well even before the Thanksgiving debacle. On Monday, the league announced a one game suspension for Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed for multiple offenses involving illegal hits to the heads of people he was tackling. On Tuesday, the suspension was overturned on appeal, although the accompanying fine was multiplied five-fold. You may disagree, but I feel that looked bad for the league. Either Merton Hanks, the NFL VP of Operations, overreacted when issuing the suspension, or Ted Cottrell, who heard the appeal, was blinded by the star power of Reed. Either way, it was a mess. To top it off, Reed complained that the fine should be reduced or eliminated as well.

3) Hector “Macho” Camacho is dead. The one-time boxing champion was shot while riding in a car in Puerto Rico on Tuesday. He died on Saturday after being removed from life support.

4) I wonder if the Ohio State fans who gave former coach Jim Tressel a standing ovation on Saturday during a ceremony to honor the 2002 national championship team realize that it is his fault that the undefeated season they just completed can not continue with the Big Ten Championship game, a bowl game, or a shot at the national championship.

5) The University of Illinois football team has had a miserable season. To top it off, coach Tim Beckman was knocked down by a referee as he stood too close to the sideline during an interception by Northwestern during Saturday’s game. His pride wasn’t the only thing that was hurt, as he also incurred a penalty for interfering with an official.

6) A mere two years after leading his team to a national championship, Auburn head coach Gene Chizik was fired. His team was simply awful this year, finishing 3-9 and being embarrassed in several big games, including Saturday’s 49-0 pasting by Alabama. I guess it’s harder when you can’t buy your quarterback, huh, Gene?

7) Two college wrestlers at the University of Iowa were suspended this week after being caught hunting rabbits on campus. Fantastic.

8) Awesome. ‘Nuff said.

9) Both of the starting cornerbacks for the Seattle Seahawks have been suspended for failing drug tests. Both Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner plan to appeal.

Bonus) How revolting is it that Notre Dame is undefeated and ranked number one? The attention that team gets when it is mediocre is astonishing. I can not even begin to fathom the insanity that will happen when they are actually good. The amount of hype that is about to occur has me dreading the next month and a half until the BCS title game. I hope that the SEC champ who will oppose them (likely Alabama) crushes them on January 7th.

Good sports:

1) Jack Taylor, a basketball player at Grinell, a small Division III school in Iowa, scored 138 points in a game against Faith Baptist Bible on Tuesday.

2) Wisconsin running back Montee Ball is the new record holder for career touchdowns at the Division 1-A level. He scored his 79th touchdown in his team’s loss to Penn State on Saturday, breaking the record previously held by Travis Prentice.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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