Patriots: NFL champs … should they be?


@head:Patriots: Super Bowl champs … should they be?

@by:Mike Norris

@email:[email protected]

@body:They were called the team of destiny. They ended their season of destiny with a Super Bowl victory over the “all great” St. Louis Rams. But, if the New England Patriots are the team of destiny, then referee Walt Coleman is “Mr. Destiny.”

If you remember that snowy night in Foxboro, Walt Coleman was the referee who overturned the Tom Brady fumble and robbed the Oakland Raiders of a chance to play for the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl. When Brady was sacked by Charles Woodson of the Raiders he clearly lost the football. The ball was then recovered by Oakland linebacker Greg Biekert. That much is certain.

What isn’t clear and up to interpretation is did Brady’s arm go in a forward motion, or did he try to recock his arm for a pass, or was he simply attempting to tuck the ball away. Some saw it as a fumble and some saw it as …something else.

In the numerous shots that the media has shown of the play, it is my interpretation that Brady was recocking his arm at the moment of impact.

As the NFL states:

“Rule 3, Section 21, Article 2: Note 2: When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble.”

“Note 3: If the player loses possession of the ball while attempting to recock his arm, it is a fumble.”

Not to say that the Patriots are not a good team; you have to be to make it into the playoffs and beat the offense of the Rams. But, their Super Bowl victory came by someone’s interpretation of a rule.

Clearly it is up to the referee to say what he thought the call was and clearly this rule, along with the instant replay rule, needs to be looked at closely by the NFL before next season.

No one knows what the outcome would have been if the Raiders made it out of Foxboro. Any given Sunday, any team can win, as we saw in Super Bowl XXXVI. I may not agree that the Patriots beat the Raiders, but they did beat the Rams and they are World Champs.