Facemask fouls aren’t reviewable, but they should be

Monday night’s game included a blatant facemask foul that was missed by the officials. Under the current rules, it’s a penalty that can’t be called via replay review.

It should be. Unlike judgment calls, no discretion is needed to determine whether the video evidence shows a clear and obvious grabbing of the facemask.

It won’t be until at least 24 owners decide to make it reviewable. That should be a no-brainer for March 2023.

The inability to review a missed facemask foul becomes even more glaring when there’s a review otherwise occurring. That’s what happened in Commanders-Eagles. Philadelphia tight end Dallas Goedert‘s facemask clearly had been grabbed and pulled. He fumbled. The question became whether Commanders linebacker Jamin Davis was down by contact before scooping the ball up and returning it for a touchdown.

“We didn’t see a face mask on the field,” referee Alex Kemp said in a post-game pool report. “As far as the review, we were reviewing whether he was down by contact or whether it was a fumble and then whether the Washington player who recovered the ball was also down by contact.”

The ruling on the field was touchdown. It was overturned via expedited review. But the video suggests that, by the time Davis had the ball, he wasn’t being touched by Goedert. More importantly, it wasn’t “clear and obvious” that the ruling on the field was incorrect.

It’s hard not to think that the decision to take the touchdown off the board was influenced, consciously or not, by the fact that a facemask foul should have wiped out everything, including the fumble. Regardless, the rules should allow a quick and easy fix to such a clear and obvious mistake.

It’s one of the NFL’s obligations when it comes to the ongoing spread of legalized gambling. It’s incumbent on the league to take all reasonable steps to improve the officiating function. This one is reasonable, easy, simple, cheap, and long overdue.

Remember this quote: “Normal incidents of the game such as bad snaps, dropped passes, turnovers, penalty flags and play calling inevitably will fuel speculation, distrust and accusations of point-shaving and game-fixing.” It wasn’t uttered by a politician or a pundit. Commissioner Roger Goodell said it in 2009, as the NFL tried to fight the legalization of sports gambling in Delaware.

Now that legalized sports gambling is in Delaware and many other states, the league has to find any and all fixable flaws and repair them, in order to prevent “speculation, distrust and accusations of point-shaving and game-fixing.” After games like the one played last night, that’s exactly what some fans are currently thinking. And saying.

Facemask fouls aren’t reviewable, but they should be originally appeared on Pro Football Talk