Monday, November 27, 2006

Anatomy of A Sham

The spin out of NFL headquarters on Sunday's blown call is as follows: Vincent Jackson's celebratory corkscrew was an intentional forward fumble, which by definition is, in fact, an illegal forward pass. In other words, a fumble is a pass. Got that?

Here is the relevant excerpt from an ESPN report (laughingly titled "Odd, but correct, call brings confusion") on the now-famous corkscrew: “It is illegal to intentionally fumble a ball forward and, by rule, an illegal forward fumble is an incomplete pass. That makes it a dead ball. A 5-yard penalty is then assessed from the spot.”

Allow me to throw my red flag. Jackson may have deliberately fumbled the ball, but he did not intentionally fumble the ball. Big difference. Do you think he intended to fumble the ball? Of course not. He intended to show off. He did not intend to fumble.

This dates back to the Holy Roller, after which the rules were changed to make it illegal to fumble the ball forward in an attempt to gain unfair yardage. Jackson's spike was not an intentional act to move the ball forward. Nor was it a pass, by the way.

On that note, I received an insightful email from Butch. The email was actually addressed to Commissioner Robert Goodall, Supervisor of Officials Mike Pereira, and ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, who was a source for the aforementioned report. Following are excerpts from the ESPN report, with Butch’s comments in caps:

While the call was questioned on the field, NFL Supervisor of Officials Mike Pereira confirmed to ESPN's Chris Mortensen that the call was correct -- and not without precedent (PRECEDENT WAS THAT THE CALL WAS RULED A FUMBLE, NOT ILLEGAL FORARD PASS).

It is illegal to intentionally fumble a ball forward and, by rule, an illegal forward fumble is an incomplete pass. That makes it a dead ball. A 5-yard penalty is then assessed from the spot. (WHAT ABOUT THE LOSS OF DOWN?)

Jackson spinning the ball forward when he was not down by contact constituted an intentional illegal forward fumble and thus an illegal forward pass. Had he spun it backward, it would have been a live fumble.

A similar call was made when Plaxico Burress did the same thing with the Steelers on Oct. 1, 2000. (THAT CALL WAS RULED A FUMBLE)

Butch then consults the NFL's own Digest of Rules regarding the Forward Pass, which contains the following rule and the associated penalty for breaking the rule:

3. The passer must be behind his line of scrimmage (Loss of down and five yards, enforced from the spot of pass).

Hmm, what's missing from this equation....LOSS OF DOWN, PERHAPS!? Someone will come in here and say, well, Jackson got a first down, so while the original pass from Rivers to Jackson was on fourth down, the downs were reset with the completion for a first down. Okay, then why wasn't it SECOND down after that, instead of first down? They spent ten minutes getting this wrong. It takes one minute to review the Digest of Rules regarding the forward pass.

So, let’s look at this the NFL/ESPN way. Say it’s 4th down and 10 on the Raiders’ own 20 yard line, with a minute to go against the Chargers. Aaron Brooks hits Randy Moss in the flat. Moss sprints upfield all the way to the one-yard line before tripping and hitting the turf. He thinks that he’s been tripped up by a defender, so he gets up and proceeds to corkscrew the ball into the ground in celebration. The Chargers recover. According to this new "correct" precedent, the Raiders are hit with a five-yard penalty for “illegal forward pass.” It’s now first and goal for the Raiders at the Chargers’ six-yard line, correct?

Yeah, right. I’m sure we’d get that call. Right after pigs fly and the devil serves ice cream.

P.S. According to Butch's email, here are the relevant email addresses: and If you write, I recommend being civil and focusing on the facts while reminding them that the Raider Nation is watching.

P.P.S. See Stick 'Em's stick for more on the Burress precedent.


Blogger nyraider said...

There isn’t any language in the rules (as posted on regarding "forward pass" or "fumble" that would lead to a clear and definitive answer to the stupidity we saw Sunday. Unfortunately, that opens the door to interpretation, which is why WE LOSE.

I only caught part of the broadcast, but ESPN TV commentary went as far as to say it was the correct call, and by way of explanation, they said... “yeah, but it’s the Raiders.” Then repeated that. What the hell does that mean? It’s obvious the NFL (and media) treat the officials as untouchable, but I don’t remember any season when we’ve experienced more Raider bashing in the media than this year. Talk about kicking us while we’re down.

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I question the "Illegal Forward Pass". It should have been ruled a fumble. Here are my reasons
This concerns a completed pass, by definition to the NFL's own Rules:
"8. A forward pass is complete when a receiver clearly possesses the pass and touches the ground with both feet inbounds while in possession of the ball. If a receiver would have landed inbounds with both feet but is carried or pushed out of bounds while maintaining possession of the ball, pass is complete at the out-of-bounds spot." Jackson clearly had possession of the pass, landed with both feet in bounds.
Same set of rules:
"6. The player who first controls and continues to maintain control of a pass will be awarded the ball even though his opponent later establishes joint control of the ball." Jackson maintained control of the pass.
"A fumble is the loss of player possession of the ball." Jackson lost possession of the ball by intentionally letting it fall out of his hands. RB's fumble a ball forward at times, without being touched by an opposing player. I've seen a RB fumble the ball forward just running down field. Why is it not ruled an illegal forward pass?
Finally, spotting the ball after the foul. Again from the NFL's own rulebook:
"2. All fouls committed by offensive team behind the line of scrimmage (except in the end zone) shall be penalized from the previous spot. If the foul is in the end zone, it is a safety."
This does not work for us. Those who contend that the penalty should have been spotted from the original line of scrimmage is wrong. Why? The penalty did not occur behind the line of scrimmage.

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to say that by rule, a forward pass can be fumbled by both definitions used.
If you really want to get technical too, Jackson could have been ruled to "Intentionally Ground" the illegal forward pass. NFL Rulebook says this:
"2. Intentional grounding will be called when a passer, facing an imminent loss of yardage due to pressure from the defense, throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion." He was facing imminent loss of yardage because the play was still live, and the illegal forward pass did not have a realistic chance of completion because you cannot throw to yourself. This should have been a 10 yard penalty from the previous spot, and a loss of down.

6:26 AM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

A couple of things:

First, the NFL argues that it wasn't a fumble because he intentionally released the ball, and an intentionally released ball is ("by definition") a pass (not necessarily a forward pass because you can intentionally release the ball on a lateral). They called it a "forward pass" because the ball happened to bounce forward. (If you watch the tape, Jackson is looking toward the sideline, and thrusting his throwing hand toward the sideline. The spin is what caused the ball to bounce forward.) I haven't had a chance to look at the rule book, but it seems to me to hinge on the definition of "forward." An assertion that it was a forward pass because the ball bounced forward is too stupid for words. With the shape of a football, it can bounce in any direction. By this logic, that fumbled lateral that Walter threw to Jordan at the beginning of the season, if the ball bounced forward Walter and Jordan would have been off the hook.

Point two is that the precedent had already been set with Plaxico Burress. Look at the tape of that and it's exactly the same. Burress was ruled to have fumbled on an identical play in 2000, and that play has stood without comment through the past six years. Now, when it might benefit the Raiders, the NFL says that call against Plaxico Burress was wrong.

The conclusion that this leads me to is that the Raiders simply have no rule book that they can rely on. Whenever it suits the NFL or the officials, they will change the rules on the spot and rewrite the rule book later. By their actions, and compiling everything they've said on this subject, this is precisely the position of the NFL. "There are rules, and then there are the Raiders."

8:56 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Just wondering ... why isn't there a bigger uproar about the lack of enforcement of the LOSS OF DOWN?

I respect DB Chris Carr's perspective on this sham.

Carr said even though the call Sunday was "horrible," the Raiders need to be able to overcome it.

"If we would have never allowed the guy to catch the ball, we would have never been in that position," Carr said. "It's a tough call. ... If we do what we're supposed to do, then that would never have happened even though I believe that it was a fumble."

9:16 AM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

There are two ways a forward pass can be illegal. One is a forward pass to be thrown from beyond the line of scrimage. This is a 5 yard penalty from the spot of the foul and loss of down. The other illegal forward pass is a second forward pass on a single play. The penalty is five yards from the infraction, no loss of down. At least that's what it appears to say on the NFL website.

To me, the key is still what constitutes "forward." The NFL says it's where the ball lands in relation to the player. Not so. It is the direction the hand is moving at the time of release. Consider the QB rule where the QB's arm is moving forward, but the ball drops straight down or behind him. Because his hand or arm is moving forward, it's not a fumble just because the ball went backwards. Jackson was actually thrusting his hand back (behind him and toward the sideline) in order to put the spin on it.

Regardless, there are some things you don't need a rule book to explain. Any idiot who doesn't realize that Jackson was not attempting to pass doesn't belong as an NFL official.

9:54 AM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

One more thing. This is major-league inconsistant. The NFL does try to determine intent. A QB's intent is determined by what his arm is doing (as mentioned above). This is the NFL saying, "just because the ball went backwards, the QB was intending to throw forward, so it's not a fumble." In this case, it doesn't matter what Jackson intended, the ball went forward so it's a pass. "Nothing to see here, move along, move along."

10:01 AM  
Blogger Mark L said...

I wasn't around for the Immaculate Reception, Holy Roller, Sea of Hands etc. I've seen the games but didn't experience those ups and downs first hand.

But given Sunday's game (and while we're at it the Snow Job too), the fact is, we had opportunities to win both after the bad calls and simply didn't get it done. Now that '01 team was a lot better than the current club so arguably had less of an excuse, and obviously that tuck call had way more conspiracy overtones given home cooking, reversals, etc. But at the end of the day good teams overcome this stuff more often than not.

This current team is simply not balanced enough and not strong enough on either side to overcome bad or even nebulous calls.

We all know the NFL is an old boys club, and the refs are merely an extension of this club and that they're human, make mistakes and also have biases, but even with this call we should have won this game and I put the loss more on the shoulders of Al, Shell and Shell's staff than the refs.

My 2 cents.

10:44 AM  
Blogger sirrastusbear said...

I have a copy of the NFL rulebook (they put it out for $9.95 to the general public). There isn't a copy of the NFL rulebook online, just a summary "Digest of rules" that puts out which is fairly worthless.

Here's the precise set of rules (it's fairly long):

Rule 8, Section 1, Article 1 (Penalties):

item c): For a forward pass beyond the line: Loss of down and 5 yards from the spot of the pass (combination penalty).

Supplemental Note 3:
The penalty for a forward pass beyond the line is to be enforced from the spot where the ball is released...

Rule 8, Section 1, Article 1 (Penalties):

Supplemental Note 4:
When a distance penalty in 8-1-c leaves the ball in advance of the necessary line, it is first-and-10 for the offensive team.

Supplmental Note 5:
An intentional fumble forward is a forward pass.

Rule 8, Section 4, Article 2, Exception 1 (Backward pass and fumble):
1) If a runner intentionally fumbles forward, it is a forward pass.

Rule 3, Section 21, Article 2 (Definitions: Pass and Passer):
It is a forward pass if:
a) the ball initially goes forward (to a point nearer the opponent's goal line) after leaving the passer's hands.

Note 4: A fumble or muff going forward is disregarded as to its direction unless the act is ruled intentional. In such cases, the fumble is a forward pass.

So, really the only determination is whether you think the receiver fumbled it forward or not. Is holding the ball away from your body, toward the end zone, considered a *forward* fumble? The ball dropped straight down. If the ball slightly angled toward the Chargers end zone, is that a fumble?

If the refs think (and rule) that it's an intentional forward fumble, then they applied the rules correctly (it would have been 5 yards and loss of down from the spot of the foul -- but since the 5 yards marked off still put the ball beyond the first down marker, the Chargers would get the first down). I just happen to think that it went straight down, and not forward, in which case it should have been Raiders ball.

They made the call on the field at the beginning of the chaos that it was Raiders ball (meaning they thought it was a standard fumble), and then huddled up and changed their minds. That's the real issue.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say that all concerned Raider fans chip in to hire a P.I.

Lets look into the background's of these "untouchable" officials.

I'm sure we would find many with gambling, drinking, drug, and other problems.
If not first hand, then perhaps relatives, or friends they are associated with.

The mixture of power given to these troubled officials to decide the outcome of games, plus the huge sums of money that flow from gambling through the sport, can be to tempting for these crooked officials to pass up.

It would explain why NFL officials have taken over many games through the yrs, and made the NFL viewing experience so horrible now.

I think we should do it, because this may be the only way to find the real truth.

11:11 AM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Sirrastubear: There are two types of illegal forward passes. The other regards additional forward passes on the same play (you're only allowed one).

What is the difference in the penalty between the two? Now, it's true that both apply here. In such a case where two rules are violated on the same play, the non-offending team gets their choice of the two.

12:26 PM  
Blogger oakzombie said...


i have sat and read a lot of the posts on the net about the so called illegal pass on Sunday and now i believe after reading your post "anatomy of a sham" i have to now raise a question that i think the nfl will have a problem dealing with in the future with this rule. lets say a team is down by 6 points and has the ball on their own 20 with 1:00 left and no time outs left and the quarterback hits a receiver down field for a 35 yards gain but he cannot get out of bounds does that mean he can just throw the ball down and stop the clock and take a 5 yard penalty and a 10 sec run off? so now the team is at the 50 yard line with maybe 42 seconds left and the quarterback hits another receiver for a 25 yard gain and he picks up 15 more running but didn't get out of bounds and repeated the same spike over again stopping the clock.

the nfl has just made a mockery of a "fumble" with them trying to protect Carey and his crew. now i know what i wrote is hypothetical but i could see a coach like cowher, shanahan, belichick or someone else using the hypothetical drive to win a game, then if it worked they would be called geniuses and said to have found a loophole in the rules . so like all the rules that are created from raider games they will have to change this one now. also does anyone remember the other fumble we were screwed out of in 2000 in seattle. ricky waters has the ball stripped by c. woodson and troy james falls on it and slides into the end zone and its a safety for the hawks and their ball again. then the nfl changed the rule about forward progress by a defender. to me it just seems bizarre that in 86 years of pro football that these plays have never happened till the raiders fall in to a controversy about a bad call and then the rules change to shut them up.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NEWS FLASH !!!!!!!!!!!!

Shoop replaces Walsh as OC !!!!!

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