October 25, 2009
After Percy Harvin(notes) crossed midfield with his kickoff return midway through the fourth quarter of the Minnesota Vikings-Pittsburgh Steelers game, the only man with a chance of stopping him was wearing stripes.
Harvin broke his return down the left sideline, but cut right at the Pittsburgh 30-yard line as the Steelers' coverage unit closed in on him. Jeff Dugan(notes), a tight end, ran with Harvin to block any Steeler who might get in his way, but instead of shoving someone wearing black and yellow, he ran square into someone wearing black and white.
Dugan collided with back judge Richard Reels, who was backpedaling in the middle of the field, and knocked him to the ground like was a traffic cone trying to stand up to a Mack truck. Reels lay on the field for several minutes while he was attended to by medical personnel, but he walked off under his own power. The official had been observing the play from midfield and was caught out of position when Harvin made his cut.
Harvin scored on the play, though the Steelers would hold on for the 27-17 victory in Pittsburgh.
It was reported earlier today that the NFL will consider equipping umpires with helmets to protect them when contact is made with players. However, the resolution as discussed in the report wouldn't include Reels, who is a back judge.
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