An Open Letter to the NFL

Posted: September 25, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Dear Commissioner Goodell and NFL owners,

On Sunday, Darius Heyward-Bey was knocked unconscious in the end zone by Ryan Mundy of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Though there have been hundreds of errors made by the replacement officials, the absence of a flag on this play was by far the most important, as it highlights the clear and present danger faced by the players in the absence of the best football officials in the world. At the beginning of the season, fans, players and coaches were told that the replacement officials may miss some holding calls or false starts, but that the expense of these calls would pay for close attention to safety related rules, especially rules designed to protect players against brain injury.

We have seen hundreds of flags thrown over three weeks for questionable holds, offsides and the like, but flags for illegal tackles have been scarce, despite the fact that the play has become increasingly violent. The absence of a flag on this particular play is case-in-point why the lockout must end immediately in order to ensure player safety and the integrity of the sport which we all love.

By Rule 12, Article 2, Section 7, Darius Heyward-Bey was defenseless, as his feet were not on the ground and he was in the process of making a catch.

“Players in a defenseless Posture are:
(2) A receiver attempting to catch a pass; or who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not become a runner. If the receiver/runner is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent, he is no longer a defenseless player.”

Also, by rule 12, Article 2, Section 7 Ryan Mundy was making an illegal hit against a defenseless receiver.

“Prohibited contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture is:
(1) Forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder, regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him; or
(2) Lowering the head and making forcible contact with the top/crown or forehead/hairline parts of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player’s body; or
(3) Illegally launching into a defenseless opponent. It is an illegal launch if a player 1) leaves both feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent, and 2)uses any part of his helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/hairline parts) to initiate forcible contact against any part of his opponent’s body.”

In light of this egregious foul that went unflagged–despite the fact that the defenseless player was knocked unconscious, carted off the field and hospitalized–I urge commissioner Goodell and the NFL owners to end the senseless and petty lockout of the officials. It is only a matter of time before a player becomes paralyzed or worse, and then it will be too late.


Brad Clark


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