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Only the NFL and its overzealous officials could manage to hang a cloud over one of the game’s greatest records being broken on a storybook play.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees broke one of the league’s great individual career marks on Monday night, and he did it with a great play. Brees hit rookie Tre’Quan Smith for a 62-yard touchdown, passing Peyton Manning for the most passing yards in NFL history. Brees’ teammates came out to celebrate the moment with their leader.
And, of course, the NFL’s officials couldn’t just let the moment happen. There was a 15-yard penalty thrown on the play. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert said it was for taunting in the end zone. The NFL’s play-by-play account said the unsportsmanlike conduct foul was on receiver Michael Thomas.
A flag for taunting after Drew Brees’ record pass
Nobody could have possibly been upset at the scene in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, not even the Washington Redskins defenders who gave up the record pass.
Brees is universally respected around the league. He is a great competitor and has done remarkable charity work in New Orleans. He also came from a humble background, at least for a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback. He overcame a lot of odds to become the NFL’s all-time leading passer.
Throwing a penalty flag for taunting on Brees’ big touchdown is like giving a speeding ticket to someone driving 36 miles per hour in a 35-mph zone. You have to let some things slide in certain moments. The penalty was assessed on the following kickoff.
New Orleans loved the moment
In reality, the flag was an annoyance to a great moment. Saints fans soaked in the moment, as they should. Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker got on some white gloves to take the record ball, which he’ll bring to Canton. Brees hugged his family and, thanks to him being mic’ed up for the game, we heard him give a pep talk to his young sons about being able to accomplish anything if they worked for it.
Still, the NFL didn’t really have to throw the flag. But, the NFL usually finds a reason to throw too many penalty flags, even during a great moment.
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