Right or wrong, the 1997 rule prohibiting players from removing their helmets “in the field of play or the end zone during a celebration or demonstration” was crafted to prevent players from, for example, scoring a touchdown, ripping off their helmets, and celebrating the accomplishment. And now, in the aftermath of the highest-profile application of the rule in 20 years, the NFL has blasted a massive, and illogical, loophole.
As noted by FootballZebras.com, NFL senior V.P. of officiating administration Perry Fewell recently appeared on ESPN to discuss the foul that marred the incredible, late-game touchdown pass from Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker to receiver D.J. Moore. Fewell acknowledged that, as explained here, Moore wasn’t the only Panthers player to remove his helmet during the celebration. Fewell then said that, under the rule, Moore’s behavior shouldn’t have triggered a foul because he wasn’t “in the field of play or the end zone” when he removed his helmet.
Fewell may want to talk to one or more of his predecessors regarding the accuracy of that interpretation of the rule. He also may want to consider the implications of what he said. If that’s the manner in which the rule is going to be applied, players now have the freedom to cross the back line of the end zone and remove their helmets to celebrate. That’s definitely not what the league wants.
I’ll be asking the league for clarification on this. And the goal isn’t to be a smartass (for a change). It’s important that all coaches and players know exactly what the rule is and isn’t, especially since most of them likely missed the Fewell interview on ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown.
Perry Fewell gives credence to helmet-removal loophole originally appeared on Pro Football Talk