What Head Official Clete Blakeman Had to Say About the Tracy Walker and Trey Flowers' Penalties

What Head Official Clete Blakeman Had to Say About the Tracy Walker and Trey Flowers’ Penalties

John MaakaronOct 15, 2019

Following the Lions stunning 23-22 loss to the Packers on Monday Night Football, head official Clete Blakeman addressed questions regarding controversial penalty calls:

Tracy Walker Penalty

Question: On the helmet-to-helmet contact with Tracy Walker, it appeared he was going for the ball. Does the defensive back have the right to go for the ball? Does that offset any incidental helmet-to-helmet contact?

Blakeman: “That’s a good question, but the reality is, it is strict liability for a defensive player. In this case, he may be going for the ball and not intending to hit the helmet, but when there’s helmet contact, it is a foul in that situation.”

Question: Even if he had come up with the interception, that doesn’t change the ruling in any way?

Blakeman: “Even if he did impact the helmet and then intercepted the ball, it would still have been a foul.”

Trey Flowers’ Penalties

Question: On the two hands-to-the-face penalties on Detroit defensive end Trey Flowers, I don’t know if you were the one who actually threw the flag there, but when discussing with the crew, what did you guys see on those calls?

Blakeman: "The umpire threw both of them. The last one was really the only one I’ve discussed with him. Basically, it’s for illegal use of the hands, hands-to-the-face foul. To be a foul, we basically need some forceful contact that’s prolonged to the head and neck area of the defender. So, in his mind he had him pinned back, it was prolonged, and that’s what created the foul.

Question: You said head or neck area?

Blakeman: “Head or neck area, yes.”

More: Lions-Packers Recap

Comments (14)

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No. 1-13

arancano

arancano

3 days

The Trey penalties are easy enough to settle. Does the rulebook include “contact to the neck area” in addition to “contact to the face”. If it does, and “contact to the face” is used by the refs as shorthand, then there is no argument. Where is the rulebook?

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arancano

arancano

3 days

On the roughing penalty, the defender was clearly going for the ball but it seems to me to be common sense that the means, however unintended, (helmet to helmet contact) do not justify the end (an interception). There may be some exceptions, but for the most part officials are not in a position (unless it is glaring) to determine intent. Reverse the roles and it might be clearer. A receiver cannot rough a defender on the way to a catch.

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arancano

arancano

3 days

The two penalties “hands to the face” are easy enough to settle. What does the rulebook say? “Hands to the face” may be shorthand but if the rulebook includes “or the next area” there is no argument. Does someone know what the rulebook says?

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DanTheMan11

DanTheMan11

3 days

Blakeman needs to resign now

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mg22

mg22

3 days

The part of the rule that mentions “a standard of strict liability” refers to a defender who initiates contact. The defender in this case did not initiate contact… at all.

Presumably the official decided that the defender was guilty of “forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder.” Problem is, the defender didn’t forcibly hit the receiver: the receiver smashed his own helmet into the helmet of a defender who was not even attempting to hit the receiver. You really have to twist the common-sense meaning of “forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head or neck area” to defend that awful call.

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radar67

radar67

3 days

Blakeman’s comments illustrate why he should NOT be an NFL official…making excuses rather than accepting deserved blame!

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radar67

radar67

3 days

This was a Lion win stolen by terrible officiating in the fourth quarter. Blakeman’s crew throws a LOT of flags (bad for NFL) but those two phantom calls that bailed the Pack out of 4th downs TWICE in the last quarter doomed the Lions. I am a Bear fan, so except for wanting Stafford’s wife to see a win after her comeback from cancer I really don’t root for either team. But Holy Peter Rozelle, can we actually have unbiased and competent officials please?

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wmvarney

3 days

After last nights Lions game am done with the NFL. Totally burned out on the refs hosing the lions. No more. byebye.

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Budphyte

Budphyte

3 days

Actually the receiver made the helmet contact by running into the defender who wasn’t even moving.

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Cjones12

Cjones12

3 days

NFL referee suck

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lionsaregood

lionsaregood

3 days

I agree this man is an enemy of the country

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Hatedbymost

Hatedbymost

3 days

He need to be fined and fired

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Maver

Maver

4 days

Foul…“hands to the neck”…

The league is really strict about the helmet to helmet stuff. Its all about player safety. Well, unless you are a Dallas Cowboy.

This wasn’t called:

That is actually a bogus interpretation of the rule by a league official. crazy.

There is “strict liability” when the player “initiates contact”. Walker movement was not to initiate contact. It was intended to catch the football. He had as much right to go for the football as the WR did. It’d be one thing if he was feigning going for the ball, but he nearly had it. The WR literally had to fully extend to get there. And once that happened, Walker tried to avoid contact, not initiate.

I get the quick flag. We have to protect players, but it really should have been picked up .

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Wow, that’s no worse than Vontaze!

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Are shoulder pads the “neck area?” Yes or no?

I’d really like to know if the “neck” is mentioned in the actual rules. I mean, I get it, you can’t come-up with a hand to the throat but grabbing inside the shoulder pads doesn’t seem to be the same thing although it’s close to the neck.

What Flowers did was not illegal , it was actually text book hand placement for a DE in a bull rush .
The rule as written …
ARTICLE 7. ILLEGAL USE OF HANDS BY DEFENSE

It is a foul if a defensive player thrusts his hands or arms forward above the frame of an opponent to forcibly contact him on the neck, face, or head.

Note: Contact in close-line play is not a foul, unless it is direct and forcible, or prolonged.

Penalty: For Illegal Use of Hands by the Defense: Loss of five yards and an automatic first down.

direct forcible or prolonged.

That is why the league only admitting the second one is BS. In both cases we didn’t have this.

image

The issue with the interception attempt is that all responsibility falls on the defender in these circumstances …it makes no difference if the defender was trying to go for the ball at all …The defender is wrong and it is a penalty (The rule sucks) but it is the rule . The defender has every right to the ball as the WR does but as the defender and not the party for the intended pass (The WR) he is bound by a different set of rules and does not have the same freedom the WR has to go get it , it is a rule that heavily favors the WR which is ridiculous .It is under the premise that the defender is normally facing the action and the WR is running away from it blind .

They only ruled the second one legal because for a fraction of a second on the first one his fist goes into his neck while holding his shoulder pad …
The O-lineman has a responsibility to make sure his shoulder pads are on tight enough for this not to happen as flowers did not let go of his shoulder pad & the looseness of his shoulder pad is what caused the contact as well as his acting job …the first call was not a penalty either but the NFL did not say anything on it , all they said was the second one was legal , not that the first was illegal…the way they worded it made you think the first one was ruled illegal but it wasn’t… they just said nothing.

Exactly. They spun it. They can’t get up there and get two in a row wrong, so they focused on the second one.

It does make a difference whether he was intending on going for the ball. That is why I doubt you see anything about Walker getting a fine. If he gets fined, they’d have to do it by the end of the business day today.

What you need to underline is the first part, where it say “a player who initiates contact against a defenseless opponent”. This does not describe Walkers conduct.

It says nothing about going for an interception. The part where you start talking about who the ball “was intended for” I don’t know if you made that up or what. Doesn’t matter here as far as I can see. I agree, the rule heavily favors the WR, but you absolutely have to let defenders go for interceptions they have as much right to the ball as the offense.

Football Zebras had a nice article on this. http://www.footballzebras.com/2019/10/flag-for-tracy-walker-helmet-hit-should-have-been-picked-up/

If I may highlight part of your article:

After the game, per a pool report, referee Clete Blakeman, who led the crew responsible for the Monday night game, addressed whether or not the flag was warranted, and said “it is a strict liability for a defensive player. In this case, he may be going for the ball and not intending to hit the helmet, but when there’s helmet contact, it is a foul in that situation,” a very strict interpretation which is included in the discipline section of the players’ manual.

“Strict liability” applies to crackback blocks, hits on defenseless players, and roughing the passer. In the context of NFL rules, strict liability means that “A player who initiates contact against such an opponent is responsible for avoiding an illegal act” (Rule 12-1-3). None of those were what happened on this play.

His comments leave little room for possible flag pick-up and determination that the contact was incidental to the defender going for the interception. The defender’s body language and angle suggest as much, even as a last split second decision. The league operates under the mantra “when in doubt, flag it” but that does not preclude them from taking the time to discuss the mechanics of the hit, especially during the injury timeout. This is not subject to replay review.

They have the same right to the ball, but how they go get it and what they are free to do to go get it are two very different things . The only defenseless player in that play was the receiver, it was Walkers job to make sure Helmet to helmet contact did not take place incidental or not .
The wording of the rule makes what Walker did a penalty , but it should not have been because the rules are not black and white and the refs are supposed to be subjective and use common sense and try as much as they can to keep the heart of the rule in play …
That’s another reason why the two hands to the face penalties that never actually happened should have been over looked even if they did happen, because in that instance and timing of the game and impact in the game & that it did not remotely effect the plays in question (such as had he gotten home and sacked Rodgers) the calls were unnecessary unless it was an agenda decision and we know it was.

Also to add…

Think about it like this: lets say the roles were reversed. Lets say Walker was the guy coming from the side and Packers WR was in Walkers position, coming up to catch the pass. And the exact same thing happened, except this time it was Walker who stretched his hands out and the Packers WR who hit the “defenseless” DB.

Read the rule. Still a penalty?

It either should be or shouldn’t be, BOTH WAYS. Both guys are going for the ball. That’s my problem with that call. I get it…but at the same time I don’t know what the hell Walker was supposed to do there.

Nope not a penalty…The WR is allowed to do whatever he has to do to go get the ball , he has the freedom to recklessly leave his feet , dive , jump , whatever and make contact with any defensive player in the process at any point . Now if walker had caught the ball and a rec then took a head shot to dislodge the ball he would be guilty as the DB became the receiver once in possession…That play smelled like shit as well , it was a reactionary flag as that flag did not come out until the receiver was seen down and out and the crowd made a ruckus …Yep I said a ruckus …Hahahaha
No ref had an issue with the play as it unfolded and happened, as it was a good football play. The Ref’s were steered by the injury and the crowd .

That was a launch. should have been an ejection.

That’s not what the rule says. They don’t make a distinction between WR and DB. They use terms like “a player” and " defenseless player". They don’t distinguish between defense and offense.

I understand your logic, but it doesn’t say that anywhere. Show me in the rulebook where they decide to give two different sets of rules to defense and offense. Obviously defenders get called for this because they are the ones trying to tackle or dislodge. But by the letter, this rule, in this situation, could be applied to the offensive player where the defensive player is judged to be “defenseless”. And when you do that exercise, it shows you just how wrong this particular penalty was. Were talking about player safety here, so it really shouldn’t matter WHO. What matters is the situation. And in my book, the situation was both players are going for the ball so neither player is initiating contact.

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NFL is a billion dollar industry, THEY SHOULD issue a season by season rule book…defining the {NEW rules} /changed rules from the past AND CURRENT rules in place each and every season and make it availiable for fans say at 5.00 or 10.00 an issue annually FOR all NFL fans. Very easily written and read and defined and CLEAR…that the League absolutely uses.

that way , we can see WTF they are talking about ! There isn’t any using vague definitions of A rule by an official where they can decide to use any “branch” of a rule they choose to fit their defense. GIVE us %#$@ RULE BOOKS that are legit and the rules in them straight forward so WE can see the damn rules as they are written for a said season !!

It does not have to distinguish between WR or DB because no such rule exists for a defenseless opponent when on Defense it only applies to the Offensive player .