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Michael Vick's Comments On Officiating--Let's Talk

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After losing Sunday to the Giants, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick had a few words to say about the officiating. Basically, Vick said that he was getting "no calls" more frequently than other quarterbacks. Specifically he said:

"I was trying to protect myself," Vick said in his postgame news conference. "Still didn't get a flag and that's pretty much been the story for the last three weeks. I mean, obviously at some point something catastrophic is going to happen and I broke my hand."
"Looking at the replays, I'm on the ground every time, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated," Vick said in his postgame news conference. "The refs have got to do their jobs. And I mentioned it to the refs in training camp when I talked to them. I'm on the ground constantly, all the time. Every time I throw the ball, I'm on the ground. And I don't know why I don't get the 15-yard flags like everybody else does."

I think this is a symptom of a much bigger problem in the NFL. In an attempt to make the game less violent and prone to injure key players, the NFL is introducing more and more complicated rules that are subject to increasingly subjective judgements. After the jump, some questions for discussion...

The first point of discussion is does Vick have a point about his particular situation? It is simple to look though film and find examples of quarterbacks getting hit incorrectly according to the rules without getting a flag. You can also find many examples of quarterbacks that seem to get barely tapped and the flag is thrown. Most of us here saw the Browns game and saw what I think was an example of a game getting called too closely. If Miami had won the game you could say that the game was decided by a few key penalties especially the roughing the passer call in the Dolphin's end zone and a silly celebration penalty after the Browns touchdown. I thought yesterday's Browns game looked more like an NBA game with the refs all getting a little payola. To Vick's defense, there is a really good highlight from yesterday's game of Vick clearly getting hit and getting no flag when it is pretty obvious he should have.

If it is true, should Vick be treated differently? Some are making the point that because of his mobility Vick can't be treated like other quarterbacks. If you don't hit him hard or commit to a hit, his quickness gets him out of the situation or he completes a long pass down field.

Should roughing the passer even be called like it is currently? Back in the day you used to see quarterbacks on the ground after almost every play. Steve Young's career was definitely shortened because of concussions and he was a similar type of quarterback as Vick. If you run with the ball a lot you end up being targeted more like a running back than a quarterback. The current rule specifies pretty precisely just HOW the defense can target a quarterback. They cannot hit him in the head at all and cannot use the helmet to make first contact. I think it is pretty hard for the referees to call this consistently at game speed.

Is this rule fair to defensive players? It is definitely hard for defensive players to figure out how to play according to these rules. Sometimes they will be literally in the air and the quarterback will either slide or launch the ball down field. You might say that the league should do anything it can to make the game safer but the there are victims to these rules and these are the players that end up looking like goats as they attempt to defy the laws of physics in mid-air.

It is easy for us as omnipotent fans who get immediate instant replay at super-slow motion to second guess referees who have field-level views at game speed. But I think the rules have become very complex and "ticky tacky" giving the refs an almost impossible task--that of being completely consistent. What do you think?