The Lions have had an incredibly interesting season, which after several controversial calls have been made by NFL officials, has given Lions fans a vague familiarity with the terminology which is couched in legalese that the NFL is now using to cover it’s tracks, when any officiating decision generates debate.
The Lions have run the full gamut of strange officiating decisions between Calvin Johnson’s not “completing the process” to Ndamukong Suh’s “non-football” act which drew a personal foul after tackling Bears QB Jay Cutler Sunday and last, but not least, the ridiculously poor call of a “horse collar” tackle, also by Suh, after he legally tackled Cowboys RB Marion Barber III, by his dreadlocks. It is becoming surreal.
After the game, in a pool report, Hochuli said, “I felt it was an unnecessary non-football act–a blow to the back of the runner’s helmet in the process of him going down.“
This season, the NFL has become increasingly concerned about the health and safety of it’s players, rightfully so. That being said, the sport of football is a violent, collision-filled game, which in principle, fosters aggressiveness. Players like Ndamukong Suh make their well-compensated living by delivering vicious and aggressive hits. Fans have made football arguably America’s most popular sport contingent upon these type of plays.
Ultimately, Suh’s tackle/personal foul didn’t determine the game’s final outcome
but not one person believed that the Lions would be able to mentally overcome the impact of such an ill-timed and costly personal foul, at the time in the game in which it occurred. I was far from surprised that little used TE Brandon Manumaleuna was able to walk into the end zone untouched, the very next play, as the Lions defense fell into disarray.
“Jim Schwartz: But it’s been reported that the flag was thrown because Cutler was hit in the back of the head when he was in the process of going down. I think it’s fairly obvious that neither of those ended up being correct.”
The fact that former NFL vice president of officiating, Mike Pereira has become a regular fixture during NFL broadcast’s in an attempt to explain controversial officiating decisions and has become a household name since he explained to us that Calvin Johnson “did not complete the process” in the Lions Week One loss. Pereira continued broadcast appearances are a sign that the game of football itself has become too convoluted for it’s own good.
Schwartz said, “Yeah, I don’t know. I know he wasn’t hit in the head and I know he wasn’t going down, I know that for sure. There are a lot of things that somebody thinks they see on the field, they think he stepped out of bounds but he really didn’t, or they think it was a facemask and it really wasn’t. That stuff occurs, it happens in the game.
“Non-football act, I really don’t know what the definition of that is and I have not seen a definition of ‘non-football act’ before.”
The NFL is undertaking a plan to alter the nature of it’s game, change it’s essence. As the season’s march forward, assuming labor unrest doesn’t bring the NFL to it’s knees, I am increasingly concerned that terminology like “non-football” acts will lead to the demise of a once proud and popular sport.
Football is a visceral and emotionally-charged sport. If you take the jingoistic and vicarious gratification of violent urges out of the game, and replace it with shills like Pereira giving clarifications drenched in imprecise, vague verbiage, I wonder if many fans will even be left to care in the future.