CFL refs have tough task in controlling violent game | Football | CBC Sports

CFLCFL refs have tough task in controlling violent game

Posted: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 | 07:30 PM

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Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant goes down against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during their game on Sunday. (David Stobbe/Reuters) Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant goes down against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during their game on Sunday. (David Stobbe/Reuters)

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At a time when head trauma and player safety in contact sports is headline news, football officials are faced with the challenging task of controlling a violent game. CBCSports.ca CFL contributor Greg Frers is of the opinion that rules need to be aggressively enforced in order to minimize the unnecessary contact.
This past weekend marked the start of the second half of the CFL season.

We were once again entertained by competitive football with great performances by seven out of the eight teams.

Like last season, this year is going to feature some close races where every play will matter. That's why it's appropriate for me to gain some clarification on a few of the plays that occurred this weekend.  Really I'm just trying to make myself feel better when I find myself yelling at the TV screen due to a refs call that I feel was missed or possibly overturned.

I was able to have a candid conversation this week with CFL director of officiating Tom Higgins. He was transparent and admitted, like any profession that is motivated to get it right, officials can make mistakes.

Last season there were 109 calls on the field that were challenged and after video review, 43 were over turned.

After further review after each game, three calls were concluded to be wrong. If this is true, then we have a system in place that gets it right 98 per cent of the time.

'Bang-bang' plays

So... was the ball thrown to B.C. Lions receiver Akeem Foster a catch and fumble or an incompletion? The call made on the field was that Foster caught the ball and then had it knocked loose and subsequently recovered by Montreal.

The call was challenged and overturned. I think this is one of those calls that had a significant role in determining the flow of the game.  It happens three to five times each game.

The CFL uses the term 'bang-bang' play to describe an event on the field when a player is impacted by either the ground or a player soon after touching the football with their hands, which then results in the ball jarring loose.

Higgins explained that a player must have possession of the football for a determined amount of time before contact for the ruling to be considered a completion. The problem is that the play happens extremely fast, and determining the time element is difficult.

The element of time is measured by the number of steps a receiver takes after contact with the ball.  When a player has the ball in their hands for two steps, the ruling should be a completed pass.

Clearly, Foster took two full steps prior to contact, therefore this play should have been considered a completed pass. The call on the field should have stood.

Good hit or unnecessary and dangerous play?

At a time when head trauma and player safety is headline news, football officials are faced with the challenging task of controlling a violent game. I am of the opinion that rules need to be aggressively enforced in order to minimize unnecessary contact.

There were two collision plays that occurred this week which need to be reviewed further.

During Saskatchewan's embarrassment of the Bombers this week, quarterback Darian Durant was flushed out of the pocket. While stumbling forward, Winnipeg linebacker Marcellus Bowman collided with the QB. After the head-to-head collision that occurred, Durant left the game.

In my opinion, this should have been called for either rough play or unnecessary roughness, however there was no call.

Although the CFL does not have a helmet-to-helmet rule like the NFL, rough play should be called when a player strikes an opponent in any excessive manner considered by the official to be unnecessary.

Unnecessary roughness

Officials also have the ability to call unnecessary roughness, which should be applied when a player uses their helmet to butt, ram or spear an opponent.

Either of these calls would have been appropriate on this play. Players who have the intent to tackle remain on their feet, lead with their hands with their head up.

Bowman launched himself into Durant's helmet head first and with his hands back. Either Bowman lacks tackling fundamentals or he intended to collide with Durant. I would suspect that Bowman will be fined for his action.

I would also suggest that Calgary Stampeders defender Jon Cornish should have been flagged for hitting Edmonton defensive lineman Almondo Sewell.

Although this play has little to do with the fact that Cornish left his feet... some have been watching too much hockey... the argument can be made that the hit above the shoulders was unnecessary. Cornish should have been flagged for unnecessary roughness.

Before people start to criticize me for being soft and post comments about how football is intended to be a contact sport, realize that a disturbing number of football players are dying prior to the age of 60 and that head trauma is being deemed as the cause.

You may want to think twice about placing your boys into football if you are of the opinion that officials need to keep the flag in their pocket during such plays.

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