Why was Cam Newton’s fumblerooski touchdown legal?

Chris Chase
Shutdown Corner

The fumblerooski has been banned in the NFL for nearly 50 years. So why was a similar, bizarre play in Sunday's Carolina Panthers game allowed to stand?

Watch as quarterback Cam Newton takes a snap out of a shotgun and sneakily hands the ball to fullback Richie Brockel from behind and between Brockel's legs. Newton fakes right and is followed by the Houston Texans defense, allowing Brockel to run into the end zone with ease. It was a complete fake-out.

Football fans immediately thought back to the 1984 Orange Bowl, when Tom Osborne's Nebraska team pulled off the fumblerooski to get back into its game with Miami. Fans took to Twitter to ask why Newton's iteration was legal, and television commentators and bloggers asked the same.

It turns out the answer is pretty easy: Newton and Brockel's play wasn't a fumblerooski at all. Because the quarterback never intentionally fumbled the ball and instead subtly handed it to Brockel, the play was completely legal. Deceitful, but legal. For it to have been a fumblerooski, Newton would have had to drop the ball to the ground.

Score one for old-school innovation. Carolina next plays the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs may want to open the playbook to find a formation that defends the Statue of Liberty play, just in case.

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