The most infamous rule change for the 2012 NFL season ended up being the one that stated if a head coach threw a challenge flag during an automatic review, not only would the offending coach be hit with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but the review itself would be called off. It was incredibly stupid and a couple coaches fell victim to it, the most notable being Jim Schwartz on Thanksgiving.
It actually happened to Mike Smith the week before it happened to Schwartz, but there is nothing like a stupid penalty that creates a controversy during a nationally televised game on a holiday to light a fire under the butts of the Competition Committee. Members of the committee had said after the Thanksgiving game happened that they would revisit the rule after the season ended, but you know how people like to lie.
Luckily, it does appear as though this incredibly inane, overreaching rule will be changed.
Ray Anderson, the NFL’s vice president of football operations, vowed that the NFL competition committee would review the challenge rule that played a major role in the Detroit Lions’ 34-31 overtime loss to the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving Day.
Anderson went a step further Wednesday, promising that the rule would be fixed before the 2013 season, The Associated Press reported.
Anderson acknowledges that the priority is to get the call right. While the competition committee might opt to keep the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the infraction should not wipe out any chance of reviewing a potentially game-changing play.
I’m fine with the league keeping the 15-yard penalty in that instance. That way, the questionable call (or non-call) still gets reviewed and fans can laugh at the coach with poor situational awareness. That said, as much fun as it is to mock a coach for not remembering an obscure rule, a game shouldn’t be potentially decided because a coach threw his challenge flag at the wrong time.
In other news, the committee is considering a “Jim Harbaugh Rule”, which would prevent coaches from wandering on the field during play and the limit the trajectory of coach spittle to no more than five yards.