A Note to Glen Johnson - The Defender's Point of View

With a new VP of officiating, I thought I'd bring up some things that are often overlooked. Sure, defender's get the best job - hitting the ball carrier, but they also get some pretty bad deals. Rules that either give offensive players an unfair, even dangerous advantage, or ones that take all the hustle and effort that goes into making a play - and then slaps it in the face with obscurity and uncertainty. I don't want to turn this into a thread about obscene ideas like eliminating the rouge, moving goal posts, changing the play clock, or getting rid of no yards in favour of the fair catch. this is about things that are lopsided or nonsensical.

  1. Facemask / Straight-arm.

When a player (specifically defenders)grabs, pulls, pushes, or directs another player (most often the ball carrier) by the face mask, it is a 15 yard penalty. I think it's even a personal foul which is often an automatic first down. This rule exists to prevent head and neck injuries, to protect players, and also so that one player cannot unfairly control another.

The exception to this rule is when the ball carrier uses the famous "Straight-arm" technique to distance himself from a defender and avoid being tackled. I am NOT trying have the straight-arm removed from the game, however; Ball carriers are still allowed to grab, pull, push, and direct the other player by the face mask and helmet not only giving the ball carrier an unfair advantage by being the exception to the rule for every other player on the field but also exposing defensive players to the potentiality of head and neck injuries that can change lives and end football careers.

Straight-arming a defender should be allowed, but only from the shoulders down. Facemasking, is facemasking, is facemasking.

  1. "Accidental Pass interference"

This has to be one of the most confusing, frustrating, nonsensical rules of all - and was called a fair bit by some officials in the last two years. Here's the reason why it just shouldn't exist.

we have pass interference, illegal contact on a receiver, offensive pass interference, pushing off - all rules that govern how a receiver and defender can physically interact while the ball is in the air. Accidental pass interference basically happens when two players running in proximity to one another, trip over each other's feet. The problem with this is that the defense is penalized, while both the receiver and defender are at fault. Both have the right not to be interfered with, while the defender have the additional right to maintain their position on the field. Because telling just who tripped over who, and asking who was interfered with, was the defender just maintaining his position, did the receiver loose control and interfere with the defender? These should cancel each other out. Essentially both players have interfered with eachother, and placing fault on something that is accidental, doesn't really seem to work in the world of officiating. imagine a rule like this giving a team the ball on the 1 yard line with seconds left on the clock, because two guys playing a contact sport got tangled up and tripped?

this is the most innocuous, nonsensical, lopsided rule I can think of.

  1. Fumble vs. Incomplete Pass.

This one gives me no end of frustration. we've all seen it, great hustle to get to the QB and just in time he swats the ball loose... but... but... it's not a fumble... even though the quarterback wasn't ruled down by contact, and lost control and possession of the football its not ruled a fumble. or at least, not after his arm starts moving forward. This again seems so convoluted, and in contradiction of other existing rules, as well as giving preference to the offence or at the very least failing to reward the D for making a play.

The QB has possesion of the ball until it leaves his hands. by this reasoning, it shouldn't be considered a pass attempt untill the ball has left his hands in a throwing motion, or at the very least, untill the ball hand is passed the shoulder, or the elbow is extended beyond a 90 degree angle. perhaps this would clearly define if a pass has been attempted, clear up the rule, and add excitement to defensive plays through recognizing that the player has created a turnover, not broken up a pass.

my point is that the current definition is far too vague, contradicts current rules for possession, and again, gives the offense an unfair and biased advantage.

with that, i leave it to you fellow fans.

This cold just be a matter of enforcing the rule that already exists.

Article 4 – Illegal Block-Hands To The Face No player of either team may thrust his hands forward above the frame to contact the opponent on the neck, face, head or facemask. This does not apply to a ball carrier using a “stiff arm? or “straight arm? tactic [b]where there is no grasping of the face mask[/b].
But I also like your suggestion that a straight arm to the head should not be allowed.

Again, this is just a matter of consistently enforcing the rule that's already in place.

(iv) Inadvertent tripping by a player with equal position shall not be ruled as interference.

Agreed. I have never liked this rule. I like your suggestion about the ball in relation to the passer's body / shoulder. If he hasn't brought the ball forward enough, and the ball ends up going towards the passer's goal line, then it's considered a lateral, same as a blocked kick. Which would also mean that if the offence recovers it behind the line of scrimmage, they'd still be allowed to throw a forward pass.

  1. They've added blocking to the face/head at the line illegal so it is a good question as to why a downfield block to the facemask isn't also illegal.

  2. Pass interference needs to be clarified in general, I don't think "intent" (accidental) should ever be part of the equation, at least for calls on the field. It is either interference or it isn't. Intent can be discussed by the league when it comes to assessing fines AFTER the game.

  3. The rule on this is clear - if the QB's arm is moving forward the pass is already in progress. You are simply suggesting it be changed to ball leaving his hand or some other point. Not much improvement in clarity or ability to judge, simply a choice to give the defense more advantage over the offense in this case.

  1. Blocking to the face at the line is usually called when the OL player's head jerks back and his neck becomes endangered. A classic straight arm is usually delivered by a ball carrier from above or straight across...much less risk of neck injury. And the ball carrier is NOT permitted to grab the defender's mask nor is he allowed to punch...an open hand only is permitted. A UR is a UR is a UR...it's all covered in the rule book....any action by a player that is Unnecessary and Rough is a UR and will get called if it's spotted by one of the seven officials on that two acre field while the 24 players beat the crap out of each other during that six second play.

  2. PI rules are very clear but by its very nature it's a judgement call as to which, if either player, gained an advantage by a deliberate action. Both players have equal right to the ball. What you see on TV or from the stands can sometimes be very different from what actually happened but I'm sure that won't satisfy many here.

  3. See my previous point...the rules are very clear but it's a judgement call....sorry if you don't like the call.

I don't think Mr, Johnson reads these post, why don't you just email him. gjohnson@cfl.ca