UPDATE 4:12 p.m.: NFL VP of officiating Dean Blandino clarified Thursday that Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was mistaken. The NFL has not changed its protocol for identifying ineligible players.
During the same press conference, there was some confusion between Blandino and NFL referee Bill Vinovich whether officials should tell the opposing team not to cover an ineligible receiver. Vinovich said he announced “Do not cover 34” during the Patriots’ divisional-round playoff game against the Ravens, and Blandino said they would not be doing that in the Super Bowl. Vinovich replied, “We won’t?”
PHOENIX — NFL officials are creating a new signal to identify ineligible players.
Head coach Pete Carroll said Thursday at the Seattle Seahawks’ team hotel that officials will use a signal to identify which New England Patriots players are ineligible in Super Bowl XLIX, according to The Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta. The signal will look like one used by officials for a missed extra-point attempt. Officials previously announced which player was ineligible, just as they do when offensive linemen are declared eligible.
The Patriots began using eligible players as offensive linemen in their divisional-round win over the Baltimore Ravens this season. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh made a stink that officials weren’t giving his team enough time to realign after finding out which player was ineligible.
The Patriots made running back Shane Vereen ineligible twice and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui once in a third-quarter drive. The Patriots drove down the field and cut the Ravens’ lead from 14 points to seven.
The Patriots used the set twice in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts, but it wasn’t quite as effective. Quarterback Tom Brady was sacked, and he threw an incompletion.
The Seahawks have said this week that they’ve prepared for the creative sets, and now that a signal has been created on the fly, the Patriots are probably less likely to use ineligible players.
Thumbnail photo via Peter Casey/USA TODAY Sports Images