NFL took no action on rules for reporting as eligible

Three months ago today, the Lions successfully confused the Cowboys as to which of three offensive lineman were reporting as eligible for a potential game-winning two-point conversion. The Lions also confused referee Brad Allen.

The next day, we explained that the NFL had no plans to change the rule in the offseason. In the recently-concluded league meetings, the topic never came up.

As we wrote at the time: “[N]o, the NFL won’t be changing the procedure. It’s up to the teams to use it the right way. If they deliberately confuse the situation as a matter of strategy, they have to accept the consequences of potentially confusing the officials, too.”

But the Lions, whose proposal to give a coach a third red-flag challenge if he prevails on either of his first two was passed, could have suggested a new rule. Team president Rod Wood recently explained why they opted not to suggest new language.

“We didn’t really bring it up, because we think we did it correctly,” Wood said, via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. “I don’t know that there’s anything we could have done differently that would have caused the ref to recognize 68 [Taylor Decker] versus 70 [Dan Skipper].”

Of course, that happened only because Decker and Skipper and Penei Sewell approached Allen simultaneously, from different directions. They wanted to make the Cowboys think the eligible player was someone other than Skipper. They fooled the Cowboys, and they fooled Allen.

There’s really no proposal the Lions could have made to legitimize their approach going forward. They know what they were trying to do. What could they propose that would allow them to try to fool the Cowboys while ensuring that the referee was in on the ruse?

That was the bottom line. They wanted Allen to go along with their effort to trick the Cowboys. The officials will never, ever do that.

Wood also talked a little bit about his complaints to the league office, after the game. Apparently, the NFL requires teams to wait until 9:00 a.m. the next morning to register any complaints, in order to give everyone a chance to cool down. Wood said that, when he called NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent, Vincent was in church. Vincent explained that when he called Wood back.

“I asked if he prayed for better officiating,” Wood said.

That wouldn’t be a bad prayer, generally. In this specific case, the Lions were in the wrong. They should know they were in the wrong. And while Wood didn’t elaborate on the extent of the communications with the league in the days after the game, it’s our understanding that Wood would simply not let it go.

He still hasn’t. So why not propose a new rule? Again, there’s no new rule to propose. Any effort to reduce to writing what they were trying to do would make it even more clear to anyone/everyone that they were trying to pull a fast one — and that they were hoping Allen would help them do it.

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