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February 21, 2006
So they trot out Mike
Filed in: Current Affairs, Sports, Super Bowl XL

Mike5

The furor over Super Bowl XL continues to rage unabated. So much so that the NFL decided to trot out Mike Pereire, Director of Officiating to do a stint justifying the bad calls in the game (he's pretty much been missing in action until this show late last week). You can watch the clip of NFL Total Access Official Review here.

My plan is to rebut (respectfully) Mike's explanations for the poor officiating. After all, the NFL doing a 'tee-up' show to justify itself really is the fox watching the hen house. Let me at 'em...

First, in this post, we'll look at Mike's discussion of the Jackson interference call (which I have covered to some extent here):

As you can see in the clip, Mike runs the play (near the catch) back and forth a few times and talks about how this must be offensive pass interference because Jackson uses his arm to obtain separation from Hope.

What he doesn't say, and what his shill interviewer doesn't pin him down on is that Jackson didn't initiate the contact with Hope in this segment.

Let's look at some stills again:

Jacksonmike6

Here they are before their final contact before the catch. (We'll avoid discussing whether Hope's contact is legal here, because there's a lot more interesting stuff coming up from Mike on that). Jackson is behind Hope on the field. No one is in contact here.

Jacksonmike7

Jackson is avoiding Hope. Hope is reaching for Jackson.

Jacksonmike8

Hope initiates contact with Jackson. He has reached out with his right arm and is chucking him on the left shoulder in the end zone.

Jacksonmike9 

Hope initiates further contact with Jackson now with his left hand on the inside of Jackson' left arm - perhaps Jackson's chest.

Jacksonmike10

This continues to be a most telling frame. Hope's initiated contact continues - now by wrapping his left arm up and through Jackson's right arm - holding Jackson. Mike says in his analysis that Hope can't hold Jackson - well, there you go.

Jacksonmike11 

As Jackson escapes Hope's hold, Hope attempts to grab Jackson with his left hand.

Hope and Jackson are continuously in contact during this sequence. Hope initiated the contact. Why is that important?

The NFL rules state:

Actions that constitute offensive pass interference include but are not limited to:

...

(b) Initiating contact with a defender by shoving or pushing off thus creating a separation in an attempt to catch a pass.

So, Mike, Jackson did not initiate contact with Hope. Hope initiated contact with Jackson. Jackson's 'pushing off' only constituted an attempt to escape from Hope. Since Jackson neither initiated the contact, nor was directly attempting to catch a pass by escaping from Hope's initiated contact (the ball wasn't in the air as Jackson escaped), how can Jackson possibly be flagged for offensive pass interference?

Of course, it is evident that even prior to this sequence, Hope is all over Jackson. Our friendly announcer asks Mike about this.

Mike says he was very concerned about this as he viewed the replay - and then, explained it in this way:

Mike1 

Mike explains that a new rule was made in 2005 that narrowed the pocket area - because there was an inconsistency in the past between the rule for intentional grounding and illegal contact downfield. It used to be that the pocket area definition for intentional grounding spanned the tackles and for illegal contact spanned the tight ends. Since there are many occasions where there are no (or only one) tight end, this was seen as an inconsistency.

Mike2

Mike goes on to explain that the pocket area definition for the 'Jackson hold' play is along the yellow line on the screen to the right...

Mike3

And along this line to the left.

Mike4

Now, this is very instructive. The director of officiating for the NFL expects this kind of precision from the officials and players in an NFL game. Mike points out that Hasselback goes beyond the right leg of the right tackle in his drop back during the initial phase of the play. You can see that he is to the right of the line that Mike drew - by about the length of his football shoe. Mike asserts that at this point there is no pocket and because of that Chris Hope is allowed to maul contact Jackson down the field.

This is an interesting assertion on a couple of points:

First, it assumes that the defensive players and the officials can readily identify with complete precision, the termination of the pocket area and the quarterback's position relative to it during the play. Unlike a yard marker, the first down marker, the hash markers, the goal line, and the like, this position is unmarked by anything permanent (at least for the duration of the play) - it is only defined at the outset of the play. There is no official signal that the pocket area has dissolved that a back judge or field judge signifies. In this particular case -

Jacksonmike1

Chris Hope would have to look back there are Hasselback and say - OK, there is no pocket area there, I can now contact Jackson. The official would have to make the same determination. Does it look like there's no pocket there?

I think the most valuable thing to come out of Mike's assertion relative to the pocket area definition and what happened on this play is Mike's expectation of field accuracy. One shoe distance on an unmarked line is pretty precise.

Secondly, Mike's assertion does not match up with the NFL's published rules on the definition of the pocket area.

The NFL rules state:

22. Pocket Area: Applies from a point two yards outside of either offensive tackle and includes the tight end if he drops off the line of scrimmage to pass protect. Pocket extends longitudinally behind the line back to offensive team’s own end line. (Ed. Emphasis mine.)

This is the current definition in the current rules on the NFL site. It's a good bit different than the right or left foot position of the tackle that Mike asserted in his discussion. I, frankly, do not know if something has been changed in some arcane area of the rules that affects this, but if this is what the NFL currently communicates to the public that defines the pocket area, it's certainly inconsistent with what Mike asserted. I've got the detailed rule books coming, so I should be able to determine what's what in this regard. If the rules as published by the NFL are correct - Mike has as much as admitted that there was illegal contact by Hope.

Further, if the NFL rules committee really made the pocket area just to the outside foot positions of the tackles, then they have virtually eliminated the rolling pocket offensive plays that many teams employ. Given the penchant for long term offense positive actions by the rules committee, this certainly seems unlikely.

But, even if the pocket area broke down due to Hasselback's position, there's still an issue with the early contact on this play. Mike said again that Hope can't hold Jackson.

Jacksonmike2

Jacksonmike3

Jacksonmike4

Jacksonmike5

Look at these frames again - pay attention to the glove on Hope's left hand. In the first two frames you can see the horizontal fingers of the glove as his hand is in contact with Jackson - in the third frame you can see the hand closed on Jackson's arm - and then released again in the last frame. That 'grip' caused Jackson to alter his route and is defensive holding regardless of the state of the pocket area.

How about you do an interview with me Mike?

Less you think that the Super Bowl XL discussion is over, check out here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.



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People Pulling

You've been wanting a response from the NFL on the game. Now you've got one. But you're not happy with it. It was too late. . . he didn't explain this or that.

It seems to me as though no explanation from any source, regardless of officiating credibility, will sway you from your contention that Seattle got robbed. Mike isn't the only person with officiating credibility that has reviewed the calls. click here

In your effort to break down all of the officiating errors that you've perceived, have you looked at any of the calls/non-calls that went against the Steelers? As hard as you may think you have tried, I don't think that you've quite reached a mindset of objectivity with your 'research' of the game.

Feel free to continue your rants. Feel free to bash my response. I expect you will, because I'm not agreeing with you.

But I am curious about one thing, are you going to disect each game next year? Or just the important ones, should the Seahawks lose any of them?

EMCEE: I'm going to dissect this one for now - and I haven't actually done that yet. It will include looking at calls and non-calls on both sides. I just got a digitial recording of the game. Play by play is coming. On the non-calls you are interested in - can you give me play and time or something to look at?

Posted by: Lonnie F. - Nashville, TN at Feb 22, 2006 12:40:44 PM

P.S. sorry about the typo on 'disect' - should be 'dissect'.

Posted by: Lonnie F. - Nashville, TN at Feb 22, 2006 12:49:24 PM

no he wont check any other games because apparently the seahawks are the only team to ever have questionable penalties called against them so there will be no need to check any others. and about the missed holding on hope, i admitted hope grabbed the arm before the explanation from the league but do you have any idea how many penalties are missed in each game? the patriots made it to a superbowl by holding the colts receivers, and won another by holding the rams receivers, but no one says anything about them. all you hear is about the patriot dynasty and what a genius bellichek is. its only the calls that are made that are wrong that are really relevant here, and if you can tell me that jackson didnt push off youre either blind or a liar.

EMCEE: Why is it that because I draw a line in the sand because of the outcome changing calls in Super Bowl XL, that somehow I am obliged to police every NFL game? No fan wants to see the outcome of athletic contests determined by officials. This game was so egregious that it seems very likely that it was unfluenced by outside forces. I will continue to draw attention to it until the NFL does something about the problem. Perhaps a few other fans will join in. Certainly, saying that because I don't have an all NFL officiating review plan I can't speak out about the unspeakable is an avoidance mechanism to avoid discussing what you have right in front of your eyes here. I have explained in great detail and cogently how the Jackson interference call should never have been called and if anything should have been called, it should have been illegal contact by Hope. If the published rules are correct, then the NFL head of officiating agrees with me relative to Hope. As well, it is that initiated contact on Hope's part that makes this a non-call for Jackson.

Posted by: steelman at Feb 23, 2006 3:37:48 AM

If you look at the entire game objectively, you'll find them.

Have safe travels in Japan.
(unless that post was from one of the other contributors, I couldn't tell)

EMCEE: That's me Lonnie. You can look at the bottom of each post on the blog in the gray area around the post and it says "Pulled by" and the authors name and when it was posted. As you can see from the site, I travel frequently to Japan for work. Thanks!

Posted by: Lonnie F - Nashville, TN at Feb 23, 2006 6:21:42 AM

SEATTLE CRYBABIES

Posted by: at Aug 18, 2006 11:45:38 PM

Hey man I am 100% with you all the way. The Seahawks kicked the crap out of the Steelers up and down that field. They lost to the Zebras and beat the Steelers. Mind if I use a few of your Photo's on a facebook post?

Posted by: Brian Whaley at Jun 9, 2010 12:11:46 AM

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