NFL Lacking In On-field Rules Decisions; Dallas Hooked

by Fred Pahlke | Posted on Monday, January 12th, 2015

      “The NFL, backed by various rules experts, said it was the proper call.”  That’s what I have been told as I watched the Dallas Cowboys get hooked/hosed and finally beaten by the NFL yesterday in their game with Green Bay.  The Cowboy’s will wait till next year for an opportunity to play in the NFC Championship game.


Photo: Dallas Morning News

Referee Gene Steratore explained after the game why the officials overturned the catch. (The NFL tells us  it was “HIS” on field decision after seeing the replay. It was a subjective one) “Although [Bryant] is possessing the football, he must maintain possession throughout the entire process of the catch,” Steratore said. “In our judgment, he maintained possession but continued to fall and never had another act common to the game. At the time he lands, the ball hits the ground, it comes loose, which would make that incomplete.” (Reaching for the goal line after three steps, abet fast steps, is not a common act to the game? Again, Steratore’s subjective decision)


Gene Steratore, NFL Official Photo: Jeff Haynes for Sports Illustrated/The MMQB

Steratore said that Bryant’s elbow hitting the ground before the ball didn’t matter. He said elbows and knees are “irrelevant” when a receiver is “still going through the process of the catch … he must complete the entire process with the football.” (When Bryant cradled the ball in his left arm/hand and his elbow and knee was down that wasn’t a catch with the stretch toward the goal line? Can’t sell that crap to this writer).


The rules of the game in the NFL are broken and the game, and the Cowboys/Packers game was, to this writer,  sham on the league (and the pro game). We can debate all we want but what I saw yesterday (and for that matter last week in the Detroit/Dallas game) was total bull hockey, in the way the game was called. Not that I don’t understand the rule, I do and I disagree with the subjective overrule of the catch as it was questionable, which in itself, should have made the catch stand; and the specific play in which Dez Bryant “did” make a legal catch by making a football play “after” the catch, was also subjectively over turned by Steratore himself. What was missed by him in the play was that the call on the field was called was ruled a legal catch first and without a challenge by the Packers head coach the subjective reversal by on the field head would never had been made.  To all except the Green Bay coach, the play was a good one for Bryant.


The legal catch is based on two things. One, did Bryant make the catch which includes a football play after the catch. The answer is yes. He made the catch and extended his arm toward the goal line in an attempt to break the goal line. Steratore did acknowledge that Bryant caught the ball but his attempt to have the ball cross the goal line extending his arm (which is a football move) was a matter of length and so he, Steratore, waved off the catch when the ball juggled, hitting the ground. Where does it say that a matter of length allows the official to make a subjective ruling when the rules only say “a football move”. It doesn’t. Salvatore should have given Bryant the benefit of the doubt, which by rule, he should have…..there was desecration as it wasn’t clear and cut. without question, that the original call was wrong.  The play, the catch,  by RULE,  should have not overruled.  Salvatore, on his wrong subjective judgment, decides who goes to the Conference Finals.


The NFL has a lot of business to do this off season. The number of games decided by subjective decisions which do not follow the replay rule,  is ruining the integrity of the game.  Plus the rules need to be reexamined.   Either in the replay box or on the field by a head official, the NFL is now on shaky ground as it decides who wins and loses.  And we all think instant replay is a better system than 30 years ago.  No, what has changed is that the rules are being changed, the decisions of the replays are a subjective, the officials on the field are inferior to those of the past, and the general public has lost respect for how the game is being called.   Better than the past?  I think not.


Can’t Believe it! Photo: Dallas Morning News

By the way, as the game was beginning, the announcers told the viewing public that Steratore and his officiating crew was not a top select group, that is, not an all-star group. They were a piecemeal group from other crews. They were right. Don’t expect to see Mr. Steratore to do anymore Playoff games for a while, it ever.

About the Author

Oklahoma native has viewed over 10,000 sporting events in his 61 years. A season ticket holder of the Oklahoma City Thunder and expert in both professional and college basketball and football. A graduate of Oklahoma City University. Elementary School Principal in the Oklahoma City Public Schools for 31 years.

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