I like to think that I am clairvoyant. Last Sunday when I saw Falcons coach Mike Smith fall victim to the now infamous ‘red flag’ rule when he attempted to challenge an Atlanta fumble, I thought to myself that the rule may cost someone a game one day. I just didn’t think that day would come as soon as Thursday in the Lions-Texans game.
The rule that I am referring to imposes a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a team whose coach attempts to preemptively challenge a play that is automatically reviewable (i.e. scoring plays, turnovers) while simultaneously making the play in question a non-reviewable play. I imagine that the purpose of the rule may have been to appease opponents of automatic replays who say that the replays slow the game down, but in practice the rule is simply asinine.
Now that a national television audience saw just how ridiculous this rule is, the NFL is promptly addressing the issue. Here’s what NFL Executive V.P. of Football Operations Ray Anderson had to say about the rule in a conversation with Mike Florio courtesy of our friends at ProFootballTalk.com:
“I think there’s some sentiment, Mike, that that may be too harsh,” Anderson said. “To not be able to review in those circumstances may be harsh, because at the end of the day the review process is intended to get it right.”
ProFootballTalk reports that in the same conversation Anderson told Florio that the league may even change the rule before this season ends. Too little, too late for the Detroit Lions, but this kind of immediate response from the corporate level to an obvious problem is a big part of the reason why the NFL dominates the professional sports scene in the United States.