The NFL Needs To Change Its Rule About Challenges

November 16, 2009 by

Look, I’m not going to sit here and type away about how the Packers cheated, or how the refs were clearly against the Cowboys, and go boo hoo all over the screen.

I’m giving the Packers credit. That defense they prepared was amazing. I’m more angry at the lack of execution by Dallas, who should have trampled over the Packers.

However, I will say that they were lucky that this wasn’t a playoff game because the league screwed this one up.

I knew Dallas had lost when the fumble was ruled recovered by Clay Matthews. It was a horrible call, but I can forgive the referees, they are human, but what I cannot forgive is the insertion of an unfair and idiotic rule that effectively ended the Cowboys hopes of coming back.

Any reasonable and unbiased fan with a basic knowledge of football would realize that Felix Jones was obviously down by contact after he recovered the ball. He was rolled over and the ball bounced in the air and Clay Matthews barely recovered it.

However, the rules of the NFL state that teams cannot challenge the recovery of a fumble, which immediately infuriated James Williamson the writer as well as James Williamson the fan.

It is not so much that Dallas lost the game, it is so much that this rule could come and hurt another team. Dallas may have had a fighting chance with a 10-0 lead instead of a 17-0 lead, but I’m over it.

What I will not do, as a fan or as a writer, is keep quiet about a horrendous rule that obviously did not fit the Cowboys situation.

What if this had happened in the playoffs? Or in the Super Bowl? Does the NFL really need another version of the Tuck Rule controversy? Shouldn’t the NFL prevent those kinds of situations so they don’t have to break a team of players and their fans hearts?

As a fan, I could live with being beaten. What I could not live with is having a game that we should have won or had a real chance to win being taken from us because of some pencil-necked man in a zebra uniform with his stupid, destructive rule book.

Would the Cowboys have won? Maybe. Would the Cowboys have lost? Sure, they could have. But, we will never know because of a ridiculous rule that prevented a team from making a comeback. Granted, Dallas made mistakes, but does that mean the officials and their rules should join in on it?

I would rather have seen the Packers kick Dallas out of the stadium by their own power, not by the referees.

Jerry Jones stated that he understands why the rule is in place, but he still disagreed with the rule’s use in this game.

“I know why they have it because so many times there are piles and scrums so it gets really hard to see,” Jones said. “But that wasn’t a play out in the middle of the field where you’d have a scrum.”

That was from the Canadian Press among other sports articles, and Jerry is right. Even the referees admitted they screwed up.

The following quote is from Wade Phillips:

“They said because they ruled it a fumble all the way through, that I couldn’t challenge it even though we recovered the ball and our guy was touched and he knew the guy was down,” Phillips said. “He said it’s just not, it’s something with the rule that you can’t challenge.”

The bold part is very indicative of of proof. If a referee knows that a mistake has been made and a rule forbids him from correcting that mistake, then that rule needs to be changed. I’d argue the same thing if the Packers had lost that ball.

Again, I’m not being a sore loser. I’ll take the loss, but this rule needs to be changed for the sake of future games.

I don’t care if it was Dallas or Pittsburgh or even the Patriots, the referees should not be a factor in the game when they are supposed to be neutral and they should be allowed to correct their mistakes.

Anybody want to disagree?

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    4 Responses to “The NFL Needs To Change Its Rule About Challenges”
    • Greg says:

      James, you might be right abot the rule and flaw, but the bottom line is Dallas didn’t show up for this game. I think you’re admitting that, and I respect that.

    • [...] The NFL need to fix its rules about challenges. (NFL Touchdown) [...]

    • [...] Any reasonable and unbiased fan with a basic knowledge of football would realize that Felix Jones was obviously down by contact after he recovered the ball. He was rolled over and the ball bounced in the air and Clay Matthews barely …More Here [...]

    • Bret says:

      I think that what you want is for the refs to have more discretion, but that is where the most grievously bad calls tend to come. Remember when refs used to whistle plays dead so fast that fumbles were becoming meaningless? At least that had a clear avenue for improvement–don’t end play so fast; take the time to see who ends up with the ball.

      As far as Phillips comments, what else would he say? The NFL and the refs have been pretty forthcoming about bad calls this season, but there hasn’t been a peep. Unless you count the second hand information from a guy who has everything to gain by distracting you from the fact that the team he prepared for the game was shut out for 59+ minutes.

      Other than that, it looked to me like it would have (and should have) been overturned, if challenged.

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