The NFL doubles down on it’s own stupidity so often that it’s almost like a different galaxy when the NBA regularly comes out with those Last Two Minutes reports after a game like “ok, this foul call was wrong, we missed one here, and oh, Marcus Smart definitely was flopping.” It’s kind of a Hawaiian pizza combination of satisfying and infuriating, like “well well well, looks like I was right, that call was BS, not like it helps us now though”.
And if you were one of the record number of football fans that tuned in to Sunday’s main-card fight between the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys, there were a couple calls that you almost never see that both boned the Cowboys on two different drives - both for tripping on the ‘Boys offensive line. Left tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick, who, it should be noted, are both All-Pros, got flagged by the zebras in the first and second half, respectively.
For some context on how bizarre this is, on the Ringer NFL show Monday, Kevin Clark made the point that prior to Sunday, there had only been 7 tripping penalties all season so far. It’s currently week 12. You do the math.
If you’re a Cowboys player, it’s extremely understandable that this would grind your gears!
Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who you might know as “one of the many guys the Cowboys decided to give $100 million to besides Dak Prescott”, had plenty to say about it after the game, too:
“I get tripped up every time, but it’s cool. I ain’t gonna sit here and cry about it. If the refs want to call bulls- - -, let them call bulls- - -,” Lawrence said. “It’s all about what we do. Everybody knows it was no such thing that a foot was thrown out or anybody was tripped.”
So, this is where it gets a bit awkward: barely 24 hours later, the NFL turns around and goes, “Yeah, our bad, those were wrong”. As in, BOTH of these tripping calls shouldn’t have happened. Eeeeeeeeeek.
The NFL told the Cowboys today that the tripping penalties should not have been called. So there is that.— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) November 26, 2019
Cowboys followed up with NFL today about yesterday’s tripping penalties vs. Patriots. League agreed: They should not have been called. pic.twitter.com/zWj7hrbs5T— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) November 26, 2019
NFL reportedly tells Cowboys tripping penalties shouldn't have been called vs. Patriots https://t.co/xe4GCpjpZr— Ryan Hannable (@RyanHannable) November 26, 2019
If we’re being honest, I’d bet that a solid 80% of Patriots fans would admit that both instances were ticky-tack penalties at best and flat-out crazy talk at worst, but it’s hard to overemphasize how extremely rare it is that the NFL actually owns up and admits when something was wrong. And if ESPN, The Athletic’s Jon Machota, and the local Cowboys beat writers are all hearing this, it’s a pretty safe bet that the NFL was fine putting the mea culpa out there for everyone to see. Whether that was the league’s idea or they’re just trying to keep Jerrah happy, who knows.
On the other hand, if the Cowboys are (understandably) mad at the NFL over this, does that mean we’re on the same team now, you know, cause “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and all that?
I kid, I kid, but let’s hope the league can get this tripping situation figured out sooner rather than later, otherwise it has serious potential to be this year’s version of pass interference, “making a football move”, leading with the helmet, or the granddaddy of them all, holding. Please, for football’s sake, figure this out. We wait all year for these 17 weeks (or, in New England, 20 weeks). Just get the rules right. That’s all we want.