Did you know the Steelers were denied a spot in the playoffs, thanks to a Ryan Succop miss on a 41 yard field goal attempt near the end of the Chargers and Chiefs regular season finale this past Sunday?
Yeah, I heard that somewhere. And to make matters even worse, San Diego had too many men lined up on one side of the center, so you know, the Chiefs should have been allowed another attempt--this time from 36 yards.
Why is it illegal to have too many defenders lined up on one side during a field goal attempt? Beats me. But it is a rule that wasn't enforced, and now instead of embarrassing myself with equal parts crying, laughing, screaming and swearing as I watch a Steelers playoff game this Sunday, I'll be enjoying the NFL playoffs with the same level of emotion normally reserved for an episode of Desperate Housewives.
I guess you can say it's silly to complain about the official missing that call on the Succop field goal. After all, did it really have anything to do with the outcome of the play? And is it any different than Cardinals fans who still insist that Santonio Holmes should have been penalized 15 yards for excessive celebration when he mimicked LeBron James'"chalk toss" after catching the game-winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLIII?
Who really cares if Holmes celebrated excessively? Yet, if you read the comments section of just about any Youtube highlight video of Super Bowl XLIII, you'll find at least one Cardinals fan whining and complaining about the non-call.
But it is a rule that was violated, so I guess it should have been enforced, Pittsburgh should have kicked off 15 yards back, and the Cardinals should have started their last drive with much better field position.
So what's the point of having these rules (regardless of how silly they seem) if you're not going to enforce them 100 percent of the time?
In addition to those rules I just mentioned, it's also illegal for a player to take his helmet off on the field of play, taunt an opponent, use his teammates for leverage to try and block a field goal and stand in the white area next to the field of play (it's also illegal for a coach to do, too, as we all found out fairly recently).
In addition to all of that, some receivers are defenseless. Others are not. Quarterbacks, kickers and punters are always defenseless during returns......unless they try to tackle the returner, but even then, are they still defenseless?
Sometimes, the play clock starts at 40 seconds. Sometimes it starts at 25. Why? I think I know, but I'm not entirely sure when that rule first went into effect.
When is forward progress halted? I don't know, but it's not worth a review, because maybe the outcome could lead to excessive celebration?
In addition to that, there are all those rules to protect the quarterback, things such as going low to hit a quarterback, going high to hit a quarterback and going late to hit a quarterback. And if the quarterback decides to slide feet first while running, you better not even try to hit him.
Of course, if you really have a good shot at hitting the QB, and he decides to throw it into the 15th row in order to avoid a sack, it's OK as long as he's outside the tackle box. Unless, of course, the 15th row is situated before the line of scrimmage, then, my friends, we're talking about intentional grounding. However, if a receiver was in the area, even he wasn't looking for the ball, as long as he was eligible, everything is all legal and stuff, and that defender who can't hit high or low is again screwed out of everything other than a pressure.
What about pass interference, defensive holding and what we used to call pass receptions?
Don't get me started.
How many challenges does a coach have? Two, right? What happens if he uses both of those challenges successfully? Oh, he gets a third. What if that challenge is also successful? You mean he doesn't get another one? Shouldn't he be awarded immunity?
They say all scoring plays are subject to review. OK, that makes sense, but what about a scoring play that wasn't called one, initially, because the on-field official got it wrong? If Mr. Head Coach is out of challenges, his team is screwed.
Did I interpret all of those rules correctly? Probably not. But I'm sure I'll have more to screw up next year (as will the NFL officials) because you can bet your Behind the Steel Curtain, the NFL's Competition Committee will enact a few more confusing rules this coming offseason.
Sorry if this post seems like a Mike Carey penalty explanation, but as a fan of football for the last three-plus decades, it's almost mind-boggling how many rules there now are and what's expected of game-day officials.
It's one thing to try and notice violations like holding and late hits, but when you throw so many other things into the mix, it's no wonder there are missed calls and angry fans each and every week.
Some have suggested making NFL officials full-time employees. I read somewhere recently that game-day officials are required to make a certain annual income on their full-time jobs in order to avoid potentially being approached by shady individuals looking to do their own game-altering, if you know what I mean?
If that's the case, why not just go ahead and make them all full-time employees, pay them the salaries the league requires them to have in their "regular" jobs, and make them adhere to the same offseason standards as the players?
The NFL is a billion dollar a year industry. I'm sure the owners could absorb the extra expense without breaking much of a sweat (or their banks).
But if that's too much to ask, here's an idea: Get rid of some of these stupid rules, or at least give the officials a few years to catch up before you make new ones.