Tuesdays with Moron: Chatological Humor Update

Jan 17, 2012

Every Tuesday, Gene publishes weekly updates to his chats.

Gene's latest chat.

On one Tuesday each month, Gene is online to take your questions and abuse. He will chat about anything. Although this chat is sometimes updated between live shows, it is not and never will be a "blog," even though many persons keep making that mistake. One reason for the confusion is the Underpants Paradox: Blogs, like underpants, contain "threads," whereas this chat contains no "threads" but, like underpants, does sometimes get funky and inexcusable.

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Weingarten is also the author of "The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death," co-author of "I'm with Stupid," with feminist scholar Gina Barreca and "Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs," with photographer Michael S. Williamson.

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Greetings, update readers.   Today's update will be relatively short.   It is going to be a one-question poll on the subject of kinetics, athletics, morality, ethics, journalism and epistemology, i.e., the nature of truth.     It involves football, but I beg those of you who are not fans to stick around for this; I predict you will find it interesting as well, and that you will find that you are as well-equipped to judge the answer as the most devoted and knowledgeable of fans.   


This is a question about one play during the Giants' glorious dismantling of the Packers on Sunday afternoon.    It came during the waning minutes of the first quarter, and was, in my judgment, one of a series of terrible calls by the referees, all of which went against the Giants.    I am not alleging money changed hands or anything.  I am just noting that on Sunday The Giants defeated BOTH the Packers and the Zebras.

(Actually, The Giants didn't so much "defeat" the Packers as "ork" them, a term I just invented and will today place in the Urban Dictionary.   It is a metaphorical emasculation based on the medical term orchiectomy.)

Anyway, the play begins at 2:37 of this video, and is over by 2:70.     As you will see, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers passes the ball to receiver Greg Jennings, who catches it and tries to run for extra yards.    As he is tackled, the ball pops loose, hits the ground, and is recovered by Giants safety Kenny Phillips, who runs it back a few yards.   The initial call on the field was that it was a fumble, and that the Giants recovered.  But another official overruled the first, saying that the ball had popped loose only after Jennings had hit the ground, meaning it should have been blown dead there, with no fumble, and no fumble recovery.

The rule in question says that there is no fumble if the ball is jarred loose after any part of the runner's body other than his hands or his feet comes in contact with the ground.  If the ball was coming loose BEFORE any part of his body was in contact with the ground (other than hand or foot), then it is a fumble and the other team is free to recover it.

Now, the Giants challenged this overruling, saying it was, in fact, a fumble as originally called.   The referees dutifully watched the replay (probably the very replay you are looking at) and decided to let the ruling on the field stand: that the runner was down when the ball started coming out.

Now.  I contend that this was a shocking error, that it was obviously a fumble.   The broadcasters agreed with me, as you will hear on the video.   And I thought this matter was settled until yesterday, Monday, when I read this piece in Deadspin, the respected sports website, written by my good friend Tom Scocca.   Tom explains his point of view well, and it hinges on the fact that to overturn the call on the field, the officials had to decide, after viewing the video, that it was CLEARLY a fumble.   If it's inconclusive, then they are required to uphold the ruling on the field.

After the game, the NFL considered the question and -- FWIW -- decided the refs were right, for the reasons Scocca laid out.  

As I said, Scocca and I are close friends, which is why it pained me to inform him that his head was entirely up his arse, to the point where breathing must be extremely unpleasant proposition.   He informed me that I am worse than an idiot -- I am a blind Giants fan.   Inasmuch as this was inconclusive, with one vote apiece, we thought we'd put the question up to you.   

By all means, watch the entire play on the video -- 2:37 to 2:60 -- but it might be helpful to freeze it at 2:58, which is the pivotal moment. 

So.   The question:
Was this a fumble, and should the decision on the field have been reversed?  Take the poll.


Are you a knowledgeable football fan? Take this poll and see how men stack up against women.

In This Chat
Gene Weingarten
Gene Weingarten is the humor writer for The Washington Post. His column, Below the Beltway, has appeared weekly in the Post's Sunday magazine since July 2000 and has been distributed nationwide on The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. He was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.
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