clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The NFL’s explanation for Cowboys “in the grasp” whistle is even more absurd than the penalty itself

New, comments

A costly decision made by the officials in a Cowboys playoff game? No way!

NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys lost on Saturday night and saw their season come to an end. They made mistakes and weren’t good enough. That’s the truth.

What’s also true though is that the game was loosely officiated. There were missed calls and questionable decisions, most notably an “in the grasp” whistle that effectively ended a Cowboys drive that could have produced points.

Dallas was moving the ball and hoping to get points right before the half since they’d get the ball to begin the second half (they did nothing with that possession for what it’s worth). On third down, Dak Prescott was scrambling and trying to make a play until La’el Collins hugged him and all hell broke loose.

You’re a Cowboys fan, and an intellectual no doubt, so you know that La’el Collins plays for the Dallas Cowboys. That’s the team that Dak Prescott plays for. This is made obvious by the fact that they wear the same uniform and helmet. This was not obvious to referee John Parry who offered a horrible explanation for the whistle.

“From my view the quarterback’s progress had stopped moving forward,” Parry said. “There were hands around him and another defender was coming, so we went in the grasp to protect the quarterback.”

Again, the “hands around him” belonged to a teammate, not a tackler.

“In the grasp is designed to protect the quarterback,” Parry said, reiterating that Prescott was “no longer moving forward.”

So was his forward progress stopped, or was he in the grasp?

“Hands around the quarterback from my view,” Parry said.

If Parry’s point about the quarterback’s progress being stopped is such a critical element in blowing whistles then why don’t we see them do it every time a quarterback stops to throw the ball? That’s progress stopping. Obviously we’re being facetious here but you get the point, this is a pretty hollow explanation.

It is also worth repeating, since it doesn’t seem to be obvious, that the hands wrapped around Dak Prescott belonged to his teammate and not to a defender. This detail is sort of the primary and irrefutable difference between when the whistle should and should not be blown in such cases.

The reality here is that the NFL made a mistake. We’re not animals, we understand that mistakes happen. What’s infuriating as football fans is being treated like idiots as opposed to people with common sense that saw what happen. If the NFL were to own up to blowing the whistle in the heat of the moment because they saw hands around Dak we’d be upset, but at least we’d be treated as intellectuals.

The NFL will probably apologize for this a few years from now. That’s typically how they roll with questionable playoff penalties that negatively impact the Cowboys.