You know what really grinds my gears? When you get two highly paid professional tackle football commentators together, and they don't seem to know what the fuck they are talking about.
At a critical junction in yesterday's Giants-Eagles super football fantastic number-one throwdown, Eli Manning steps up in the pocket on third down near the 20 yard line and fires a pass to Kevin Boss for a critical first down at the 3. Uh-oh, I thought. He looked really close to the line of scrimmage. And, sure enough, the yellow flag was thrown. Illegal forward pass, five yard penalty, and loss of down. The Giants were going to have to settle for a field goal try.
But then I saw the replay. By rule, a player is considered behind the
line of scrimmage as long as any part of his body remained behind the
line. And clear as day, I could see that Eli had dragged his right
foot behind him, keeping it behind the line as he threw the pass.
Challenge! Challenge! I screamed at the television. (By the way, my
television is specially equipped so that people on the other side can
hear me. It really comes in handy during sporting events.)
Giants super-coach Tom Coughlin got my message, challenged the play,
and it was overturned. The Giants pounded the ball into the end zone
for a touchdown and went on to win the game by 5 points.
Only: Al Michaels and John Madden, the highly paid analysts for NBC
Sunday Night Football, did not seem to agree with the decision made by
the referees. Replay after replay showed Eli Manning was clearly behind
the stick on the sideline, which is the official
indicator of where the line of scrimmage is. Only, Michaels and
Madden did not seem to be looking at the stick.
No, instead, they were looking at the stupid magic floating red line
that NBC superimposes on the field to indicate where the line of
scrimmage was. Only, the line was off by about a half-yard.
"Well, I guess maybe the back of his right heel is behind the line," Michaels wavered. "It's awfully close."
"I don't think the officials are looking at the same replay I'm looking
at," Madden blustered. "He looks in front of that line to me."
Newsflash, old man: THE MAGIC RED LINE IS NOT OFFICIAL. The stick is
official. Madden, weren't you a coach at one point? How did you know
where the line of scrimmage was back then, down on the field, before
you could see where the magic red line was? Oh right, you LOOKED AT THE
Now, if this had been a brief conversation I might not have minded.
But we looked at the replay FOR 15 MINUTES. 100 times we watched Eli
throw the ball with his foot behind the actual line of scrimmage, and
100 times we heard the announcers complain that his foot looked like it
was in front of the fake, magical floating red line.
Somebody in the production truck must have gotten as sick of their
stupid mouths as I did, because they went back and re-adjusted the
magic red line to put it in the proper place. Now, the replay clearly
showed Eli behind the magic red line. "We're looking at replay with the
line moved to the tip of the football, and you can see he's behind the
line," Michaels finally admitted.
"Well, sure he is if you move the line," Madden complained.
I missed the next few plays after that because I was distracted by punching myself in the face.
PS: In today's AP recap:
The Eagles were surprised the play was overturned. "I don't know what they were looking at," defensive tackle Mike Patterson said.
THEY. WERE. LOOKING. AT. THE. STICK. AND. NOT. THE. GODDAMNED. MAGIC. FLOATING. RED. LINE.