No Touching


OPINION — Ever since I was a kid I’ve enjoyed football. Not soccer, which everyone outside the US calls football. Real football. The sport of kings. A game that’s so rough the players have to wear padding under their jammies to keep from getting damaged too bad. A head-to-head standoff between two teams of six players on an 80- by 40-yard field of grass. Or maybe rocks. And dirt. Lots of dirt. You need the dirt to soak up the blood.

Six-man football is the essence of the game, but most high schools play the second-tier iteration, eleven-man football. Which is good, just not as good as six-man. Still, it beats par cheezie. And I don’t have clue one what par cheezie is.

Beyond the high school level, football isn’t football anymore. It’s a business. If it don’t make money, it don’t happen. Which is why I only watch college and pro football when I’m invited to a friend’s house, and I always make sure there will be plenty of food involved. Preferably chips and salsa.

But I watched a lot of football on television with my dad and brother when I was a kid. I had a poster of the 1972 Dallas Cowboys on the wall of my bedroom, and I read Jerry Kramer’s ‘Instant Replay’ several times, pre-puberty, so I feel imminently qualified to express my opinion whenever any kind of gridiron dispute arises on social media. So does everyone else, apparently.

Such disputes are about as rare as dirty socks these days. You can’t sling a cursor during the fall without hitting a post about a bad call, or a poor coaching decision, or a fumble that wasn’t really a fumble because it was caused by the ground and that guy never had possession in the first place why was it ruled a touchdown what’s wrong with those refs are they blind my GRANDMOTHER COULD REF BETTER THAN THAT YOU MORON!

My point is that it’s far easier to tell what happens on any given football field from the stands than it is when you’re right there on the field with the players, according to what I read on social media. And it’s even easier if you’re watching the game on television. Case in point being the controversial call at the end of the Cowboys vs. Lions game this past Saturday evening, which Detroit obviously would’ve won if not for the abysmal call that cost the Lions a two-point conversion with something like 23 seconds left. Those rascally refs.

Or, to put it another way, it was a good call poorly described, and Dallas pulled off a fantastic win in a close, pivotal game which just might determine the outcome of the Super Bowl, which I probably won’t watch anyway unless someone with lots of chips and salsa invites me to their house. Homemade salsa is much preferred by the way.

Right now that one call seems to be a lot more important to most people on social media than homelessness, or politics, or the war in Israel, or air. For some reason. So, as a public service, I’m going to apply my extensive expertise and experience in judging football plays from the comfort of my home and settle this matter, so everyone concerned can quit worrying about it and get back to their regular lives. You’re welcome.

Here’s what happened. Detroit scored a touchdown with about 23 seconds left in the game, bringing the score to Dallas 20, Detroit 19. Detroit decided to go for two, and three Lions players approached referee Brad Allen before the attempt. One of them, Decker, says he reported to Brad that he would play as a legal ball receiver on that play. Decker, by the way, is a fantastic name for an NFL lineman.

Decker ended up catching a pass for the two-point conversion, but it was called a foul, and not counted. Brad said the penalty was for ‘illegal touching,’ which means something far different than what I thought at first, if you catch my drift. Brad said later that another Detroit player, Scooter or something, reported as a ball handler, but not Decker. Then the Lions tried some more to get extra points, failed, and lost the game to Dallas.

Now, to be clear, allowing a lineman to legally catch a pass should either be allowed all the time or never. The NFL needs to fix that sometimes rule, especially since it’s allowed without telling the defense about it ahead of time. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, vis a vis rules, for any game. It’s like if you’re playing poker, and the dealer’s duces can count as aces if he wants, but he doesn’t have to tell anyone else about it up front. It’s insane.

Second, when a lineman DOES declare his eligibility to handle the ball to the ref before a play, he must subsequently line up in an appropriate ball handling position on the field. Decker did not do that for the play in question. He was ‘covered’ by his teammate, #8, a tight end (no touching), who lined up outside of Decker. So even if Decker DID legitimately report to the ref, which would’ve made him eligible to catch the pass, he then negated said eligibility by squatting in the wrong location. Bummer.

THE REFS WERE RIGHT: NFL Releases Video EXPLAINING Taylor Decker ILLEGAL TOUCHING | Lions vs Cowboys

The bottom (no touching) line is that Brad made the correct call, but didn’t explain it well. Detroit violated the rules, Dallas legitimately won the game, and you can all go back to what you do best. Looking for a bad call to complain about.

You wanna pass that salsa . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who is available for select Super Bowl parties. Write to him at [email protected]

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