New lows in NFL officiating: How exactly can the NFL possibly defend the Greg Jennings fumble?

When I was in college, I was a basketball referee.  Not like a real certified basketball referee, like a high school referee or something.  I reffed little 10 year old pieces of shit (sorry, but that’s what they were).  And it was a little in-town league that added their own dumb rules.  For example, if one team had a lead of 20 points or more, they were no longer allowed to press.  So you’d have a team up by 19, and they’d be pressing, they’d get a steal, lay it in, and have to know that they can no longer play aggressive defense.  If they pressed, it was a technical foul.  On one occasion, I was reffing a blowout.  The leading team hit a layup, and was running back to play defense (not pressing).  When the losing team inbounded the ball, they threw it directly to one of the retreating players on the winning team.  Threw it right to him.  I mean… right to him.  What’s the kid supposed to do?  Just let it go?  It’s freaking basketball.  He intercepted the pass, drove down and hit a layup.  I let it go.  The losing coach and some parents in the stands went absolutely apeshit initially, and they were on my ass the rest of the game, which lasted at least another half hour.  They were yelling at me for a freaking half hour.  Over 10 year olds.  In a blowout.

And then just generally… There was always some asshole parent in the stands yelling “Three seconds!” all game anytime a kid went into the lane.  For my readers that have kids that play basketball… 3 seconds is a secondary call.  As a referee, it’s impossible keep your eyes fixed on the lane to see who’s been standing in it for 3 seconds while also simultaneously watching all the rest of the action on the court.  See whatever bug that is to the right?  That thing can probably watch for 3 seconds and the regular action on the floor.  Unfortunately, humans pretty much can’t.  So if you’re that guy… that loud obnoxious douchebag with nothing better to do than keeping your eye fixed on the fat kid to see if he’ll stand in the lane for 3 seconds… Shut. Your. Fucking. Mouth.

Anyway, sorry about that. Still have some bad memories. The point I’m trying to hammer home here is that I’m sympathetic to the plight of the referee.  But I simply can’t accept the NFL defending Bill Leavy’s inexcusable non-overturn of Greg Jennings’ fumble on Sunday.  Here’s what they said, per ProFootballTalk:

“Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1 of the NFL Rule Book (page 35) states: ‘An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended: (a) when a runner is contacted by a defensive player and touches the ground with any part of his body other than his hands or feet,’” the league said in a statement emailed to PFT by NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.  “So by rule, if Jennings’ calf was on the ground prior to the ball coming loose, he is down by contact.  Contrary to what was suggested during the game, there is no need for the runner’s knee to be on the ground.”

They added:

“Rule 15, Section 9 of the Rule Book (page 98) governs instant replay reviews and states:  ‘All Replay Reviews will be conducted by the Referee on a field-level monitor after consultation with the other covering official(s), prior to review. A decision will be reversed only when the Referee has indisputable visual evidence available to him that warrants the change,’” the league said in the statement.

“Referee Bill Leavy conducted the instant replay video review and determined that there was no indisputable visual evidence to warrant reversing the on-field ruling of down by contact.  As a result, the ruling on the field stood.”

Except that… you know… it’s conclusive as shit that no part of Jennings’ body is on the ground before the ball has begun to come out.

NFL officiating has been atrocious the entire season, and you’d think it would be almost impossible to screw up the above call.  But for the NFL to go out of its way to defend it?  Really?  It borders on insulting its customers’ intelligence.


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  19. Trueblue63 says:

    Too many rules in the NFL. The Tuck rule is a perfect example. What possible reason do they need a special rule to determine if a ball isn’t a fumble when a QB isn’t attempting to pass? The concept makes my brain hurt.

    Down by contact, down by telegraph, sliding QBs, the ground can’t cause a fumble, unless your not down by contact and then if it’s an odd Sunday in November and the referee ate eggs, ….

    With instant replay, and the ability of basically the entire viewing public to see the horrible mistakes, they desperately need to simplify, eliminate the 10,000 special situations, and make it clear again.

  20. AltoonaEagle says:

    Your basketball refereeing analogy is spot on! It is a secondary call. BTW: I have a 10 yr old playing ball now and consistenly there is some a-hole calling a walk every time down the floor. Is it reallly a walk? Yeah probably about half the time, but lighten up folks, its 4th grade basket-freakin-ball. sheesh. If you called every legit foul, the game would be 3 hours long and they would learn nothing – except to hate the sound of a whistle.

  21. slandog says:

    The NFL is all about making the game better for the fans, fine I agree with that. But I think they need to stop messing with all the rules and take an offseason and re-train their officials. They have been bad for a while now and they keep getting worse. I’m sure they have training every offseason, but they need better instructors or soemthing.

    The NFL should start to fine ref’s for making just plain stupid calls. They do for players, it’s time for officials as well.

    I also used to umpire baseball a few years back so I also know what they go through. But some of the calls the last few years have no excuse at all!!

    1. RogerPodacter says:

      i think part of the problem is that all of these refs are only part timers. They all have ‘real’ jobs that they have to attend to. being an NFL referee these days is sort of like a hobby.

      I think they need full time refs and/or more refs.

      and can we please change the rules so there is some way that crazy penalties can be reviewed? (or the lack thereof)? We can review that the guy scored a TD, sure, but what if there were 12 cases of holding during the play that none of the refs saw? nothing you can do about it but complain….
      hmm….that idea sounds good on paper, but the more i think about it, it’s probably not a very good idea….

      1. deg0ey says:

        Problem is that so many penalties are subjective – How many times do you see guys on forums etc arguing about whether something should/shouldn’t have been a penalty. Even if you watch it back on the replay it’s often difficult to come to a conclusion. The NFL seem to be very keen that if replays are used there needs to be conclusive evidence to change a decision and most of the time with penalties that just isn’t the case.

  22. Turd.Ferguson says:

    Giants, be thankful. Without Cruz’s non-fumble against the Cards you wouldn’t have made the playoffs.

    1. bdawk4ever says:

      Yeah, seriously. Giants fans have NO cause to complain about any call because they wouldn’t even be here with that.

      In the end this call didn’t matterm, and I’d rather them not overturn things than overturn things that DON’T have indisputable visual evidence. Its why I hate the phrase “The call on the field is CONFIRMED.” No, its not because that’s not the standard. The standard is UPHELP, because indisputable visual evidence is what is required.

      1. bdawk4ever says:

        UPHELD, not UPHELP

        1. giants fan says:

          You sound bitter.

          1. Scott says:

            If my team missed the playoffs because of some horrible call by the refs I would be

  23. Jay Walker (GIB) says:

    Did the refs have a shortened off season as well?

  24. JenFromVA says:

    Thanks, Jimmy, for being another voice of reason in this issue. It is OUTRAGEOUS that the NFL defended this call, which was only one among several terrible calls throughout the entire game. Leavy either needs his vision checked or his bank records checked for unusual payments. You are absolutely correct that officiating has been horrific this season and who knows how things might be different were it at least decent. They are considering bringing on some officials full time but I don’t know how much of a difference that will make but I suppose it’s a step in the right direction.

    And I happen to like the current subtitle. The weather in SF is supposed to be terrible all week, including on Sunday, so it will be tricky for both teams. Good thing the Giants have an ELIte quarterback leading them.

  25. ct17 says:

    Now can they explain why Matthews gets two extra steps to the QB?

  26. Fiftyfourd says:

    Referring to the new subtitle under Blogging the bEast, I fucking hope not! I don’t want to live in a world where Eli Manning has 2 super bowl rings….

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