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Old Mon Jun 28, 2004, 01:04pm
Bob M. Bob M. is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Clinton Township, NJ
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REPLY: Just a little "soap box" discussion if you'll allow me... It's primarily aimed at our newer officials, but even some of us 'graybeards' might get something out of it.

This thread talks about a scrimmage kick and an inadvertent whistle -- a horrible combination! In my observations, this unfortunately is more than a hypothetical question. Even in a college bowl game last season, a BJ blew an inadvertent whistle during a scrimmage kick! IMHO, there are basically two situations during a scrimmage kick where an inadvertent whistle might be likely. The first is when a receiver signals for a fair catch. The covering official sounds the whistle when the receiver touches the kick anticipating that he will complete the catch. But...he muffs it! And then all hell breaks loose. This is what happened in the bowl game I mentioned. The official in such a situation suffers from good intentions but flawed execution. His intent is to 'enforce' the protection for the receiver. Why? Doesn't the signal do that? Every player, coach, fan, maybe even announcer(!?!) knows that the ball will become dead if and when the receiver catches it and that he's 'off-limits.' There's no urgent need to sound the whistle. My advice...let the receiver straighten up and watch all the action begin to stop after the catch is completed before you sound the whistle. In some cases, depending on the angle I have, I may even wait for him to turn and offer me the ball before blowing.

The second such situation is when a scrimmage kick is rolling on the ground beyond the NZ. A player of K (or maybe even R) dives on the ball to cover it. The official sounds his whistle, and then sees the ball squirt loose prior to posession being gained. Again, a "red-faced" discussion with the R followed by an irate coach told that the down would need to be replayed. There's no reason for it. We're always preaching that the whistle doesn't kill the ball, that the ball is already dead. Let's apply that principle ourselves in these cases. Let the play kill itself. Don't be in a hurry to sound the whistle. If there's going to be a late hit, it will most likely happen--whistle or not. Yes, it's easier to 'defend' a personal foul flag if the contact comes after the whistle, but is it really worth the risk of blowing the whistle too soon? I personally don't think so. I'd invite your comments.
Bob M.
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