About 75 percent of the time, unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties seem like they were written by people who have never watched a football game before.
When a safety gives a running back an extra push as he’s still halfway inbounds, or a blitzing linebacker lets his facemask rise a half inch too far as he sacks the quarterback, it’s yellow flag time. The rules are designed to protect the players, but a good deal of the time those rules assume players can do physically impossible things, like stop on a dime when the whistle is blown after running full speed across the field.
Then there are plays like Arkansas freshman Marquel Wade‘s cheap shot on Vanderbilt punt returner Jonathan Krause that remind fans exactly what these rules are designed to protect against.
Early in the third quarter of Saturday’s game, with Vandy holding a surprising 21-17 lead over No. 10 Arkansas, the Razorbacks punted. Krause signaled for a fair catch and was about to nestle underneath the ball when Wade came flying in, helmet first, and knocked Krause back into Friday.
The ESPN announcers immediately called the hit what it was: a despicable, dangerous play made all the worse by Wade turning around and preening over Krause’s prone body as if he’d just laid out Jim Brown, not simply decked a defenseless punt returner. An assistant coach can be seen grabbing Wade forcefully by the back of his jersey and leading him to the locker room, where Wade was certain to face at least a harsh tongue-lashing.
At halftime and in postgame highlight shows on multiple networks, however, studio analysts sought to give Wade a pass. More than one insisted Wade “didn’t mean to hurt anyone” and that he was “just a first-year player trying to make a play.” The “first-year player” excuse was particularly odd, since there’s not a football program in the nation, from Pop Warner to high school, in which it’s allowed to hit a return man before he’s had the opportunity to make a catch.
In this case these analysts, all of whom have been recognizable faces on Saturdays for years, really need to get a clue. Krause laid on the field for a long time before finally walking off. Rutgers defensive end Eric LeGrand, who led the Scarlet Knights onto the field Saturday in an emotional moment, was paralyzed from the neck down when he lowered his helmet to make a tackle last season. At least LeGrand led with his shoulder and went low on the ballcarrier; Wade attacked headfirst into Krause’s facemask.
There are borderline plays, and then there are disgusting displays like Wade’s. He was penalized and ejected from the game, and he will likely face further discipline from the SEC.
Check out Wade’s cheap shot in the video of the day below.
Photo of the day
Here comes the flag.
Screengrab via YouTube/TheSportsNut007
Quote of the day
“It really is something I’m very proud of, to be associated with Eddie Robinson. Something like this means a lot to me, an awful lot.”
— Penn State football coach Joe Paterno on passing Robinson for the most career coaching wins in Division I
Tweet of the day
Here’s another question: Who invites a financial adviser they don’t know very well to their wedding?
Video of the day
This is about as cheap as it gets.