The League

Gene Wang
Fantasy Guru

Gene Wang

A sports staff writer at The Washington Post

The Right to Choose


When a team commits an offensive penalty inside its 10-yard line, officials move the ball back half the distance to the goal. We've seen this ridiculous procedure countless times. You can't help but roll your eyes when a team jumps offside inside its 1-yard line, and an official moves the ball back a couple inches. It's as if the team committing the infraction really isn't being penalized.

There's a much better way to handle these situations, and it's simple common sense. Why not give the defense the option of moving back the ball or moving the chains forward?

Say a team is called for holding at its 9-yard line. Normally the ball would be placed inside the 5, presumably at the 4-and-a-half-yard line, if there were such a thing. Under the new rule, the defense could choose to have first-down marker moved 10 yards forward, meaning the penalized team would need to reach the 29-yard line for a first down. That penalizes the guilty team the full 10 yards, rather than less than three yards. In another circumstance, if a team jumps offside at its 5, perhaps the defense would elect to move the ball back half the distance to give it a better chance at a safety.

Either way, the defense should get to choose.

By Gene Wang  |  May 11, 2009; 1:13 PM ET  | Category:  Gene Wang , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Better yet, give the offending team a safety.

Posted by: Section406 | May 12, 2009 3:47 PM

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