NFL To Change Stupid Challenge Flag Rule For 2013

Chris Graythen

Great news, considering the Falcons were screwed over by the very same rule in 2012.

During the Falcons' game against the Arizona Cardinals this past fall, Mike Smith made a mistake. He and his team were punished justifiably, in the same way a child with its hand in the cookie jar should be launched into space atop a cruise missile.

Arguably one of the five stupidest rules on the books in the NFL's giant bible of stupid rules reared its ugly head more than once in 2012, and Smitty was an unwitting victim. After Sam Acho punched the ball out of Jason Snelling's hands on one play, Cardinal Greg Toler tried to toss the ball back inbounds. The play was set for a booth review, but Smith chucked a challenge flag anyways.

One can understand why, in the case of a review, the NFL doesn't want coaches throwing flags. I'm fine with a small penalty—15 yards were assessed, and that's excessive—but that wasn't the worst part of this. No, the worst part is, when you throw that flag, the booth review goes away.

Even if the play is flagrantly wrong, it will not be reviewed because the coach had a (likely innocent) brain fart. It's an awful rule, and it cost the Detroit Lions their Thanksgiving Day game against the Houston Texans. The outcry over that and the Falcons call was enough to embarrass the NFL, and we all know the NFL does not like to be embarrassed.

The upshot is that Ray Anderson, NFL vice president of football operations, has promised the rule will be changed for 2013. The penalty will still be assessed, but teams will no longer have to watch a legitimate booth review go up in smoke because of an honest mistake, which is a step in the right direction. It was really the only step the league could take, given how indefensible that rule really is.

Your thoughts on the rule change?

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