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.”
“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.