Lies, Damn Lies, and Penalties

I love some good hand wringing regarding rules that most people have never even read.

To start with the Lane ejection, I completely agree with everyone on the planet that saw the slo-mo replay, that no “punch” was thrown. A couple points however. It sounds from the supposed expert commentators in the booth (and therefore from every Seattle fan on Earth and for some reason every radio commentator outside the state of Wisconsin) as if an actual punch is required. I define punch by the way as: closed fist, arm extended, regardless of whether contact from knuckles actually connect with the other person’s body. By my definition, you do not have to wind up in order to throw a punch. If a punch by that definition is required, then even at full speed, this is a bad call and the ejection was simply awful.

However: THAT IS NOT REQUIRED.

NFL Rule Book:
Every place I turn, they’re citing Rule 12, Sec 4, Article 1(a) as the source of the ejection. This rule simply DOES NOT apply. This rule (and it’s easy to find) is for someone that throws a punch or an elbow, and is penalized, TWICE in the same game. Mandatory ejection on the second offense. Note however for later purposes, the inclusion of the elbow as one of the means of committing an egregious qualifying foul, and for present purposes note the following language: “twice in the same game.” This section has nothing to do with this ejection. So shut up ESPN and Seattle. This rule is strictly for people that twice in a game, commit one of the most serious violations possible; for ex, kick, punch, or throw an elbow, get caught twice, and get flagged twice. Mandatory ejection upon the second flag, not the first. There is no discretionary ejection under this section. And again, despite this rule not applying, it is the rule that addresses the most egregious violations, and only a very select limited few are serious enough to actually be written down as specifically qualifying for ejection. Guess what’s including among the most serious violations: You guessed it, using your elbow against your opponent! That’s how seriously they take an elbow strike.

The rule that DOES apply: Rule 12 Article 6

“Penalty: For unnecessary roughness: Loss of 15 yards. The player may be disqualified if the action is judged by the official(s) to be flagrant. If the foul is by the defense, it is also an automatic first down.”

Here’s the thing: using a forearm (which is again singled out as one of the few offenses serious enough to merit ejection) is a foul, and simply put, he used it against an opponent already on his back. When I saw the replay at full speed, I truly first thought he was attempting to drive his forearm into the throat of Davante Adams. But after watching it slowed down, zoomed all the way in on full HD to the point where the entire screen is consumed by the forearm and Davante’s chest, you can see that he was really just driving his forearm down upon the high chest area, and didn’t make it far enough under the facemask to really look like he was doing anything truly crazy like trying to choke out Davante MMA style. My initial reaction was blown way out of proportion.  But, that is entirely besides the point. The point is, I saw him driving his forearm into a person laying on his back, under the chin. On the way down, one was an accident. The ones on the ground were intentional. He even moved his forearm at one point, to reposition and apply the pressure where he wanted it. No he didn’t wind up and deliver a traditional strike, but he used a forearm strike (and I do agree Davante started it, but that truly is a separate issue). Much like with a punch, I do not believe a wind-up is required, but he used the forearm, again a serious matter under the rules, once Davante was already on the ground.

If you use a forearm against your opponent, you will draw the attention of the officials. You will get a flag. They all know this.

The ejection was actually the wrong call, because in the end he truly was incompetent if he was trying to choke Davante. But it happened fast and although the ejection was an overreaction, I feel it wasn’t as outrageous a call as ESPN would have you believe when they tell you any foul under the circumstances required ‘punch.’ And that’s the problem in my mind. Commentators seemed outraged that there was even a flag, as there was no punch (mostly I believe because Troy said so). But a punch is not required, and a forearm equals a flag. Argue the ejection all you want.

Knowing the rule, and knowing that using a forearm strike is considered a serious offense, if I saw this on the field in the heat of the moment at full speed without the benefit of replay, I might have have made the identical mistake, but I DEFINITELY would have thrown a flag. Yes, I say that with the benefit of actually having read the rule, watched it with the benefit of replay, and knowing that using your elbow is considered a very serious offence, one you CAN be ejected for, and that a punch is ABSOLUTELY NOT required. Thanks though, to Mike Pierera, Joe Buck, and Troy Aikman, for knowing those rules and adding valuable insight to the broadcast. Didn’t Mike Priera once have some kind of high powered job… one with some relationship to the rules… I’m sure I read that someplace once.

Go ahead Seattle, complain, and you’re correct that he should not have been ejected. But a foul was certainly committed, and it was bang bang. He should have been flagged for sure, but not ejected. But keep on telling that story, a ‘punch’ is required for any foul to be called. And keep citing Rule 12 Sec 4 Article 1(a). Rules experts Troy, Joe, and Mike will back you all the way on that (I defy any reader to read that rule and think it applies). Whatever you do though, if you want to keep people on your side on this, don’t alert them to the fact that you’re completely misinterpreting the entirely wrong rule.

And as to the pass interference:

Yup, we did it. And against any other team, we should have been called for it. But, if the refs are going to look the other way all day on Seattle literally mugging our WRs for a full 3 hours, I have no sympathy when we get two or three no calls after committing legit PI.

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