The Packers need a good attorney. As already established, I am not a football expert but I am a Packers fan so I was sorry to hear about their loss last week. And then I learned (from better fans than I), that there was a bad call by a ref that led to a 49ers touchdown. And a friend/Packers fan pointed out that some of these coaches could use some good legal advice to prevent this from happening again.
During last weekend’s game Clay Matthews of the Packers hit the 49ers’ quarterback out of bounds. Apparently there was a bit of a scuffle and Joe Stanley, a San Francisco player, grabbed Matthews. Both Matthews and Stanley drew fouls as a result of their conduct and then came the problem: the ref announced that the third down would be replayed. As the ref admitted after the game, however, the down should have counted under NFL rules and they should have moved on to fourth down.
As I explained in my last Howard Stern post, the legal system divides issues into questions of law and questions of fact. Generally, juries decide questions of fact while legal questions are left to the judges. in football, on the other hand, referees act as both judge and jury – deciding questions of law and fact. They decide whether there was a late hit (a fact question) and what the consequences of such a hit are (the legal question). In last week’s situation, the actions that led to the two fouls were factual questions. But the decision to replay the down was a legal decision (it’s like a procedural question a court would face – after fouls are called in this situation, what are the legal ramifications?).
So what does this have to do with the Packers hiring an attorney, you ask? Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy could have used an attorney on his team who knew the NFL rules when the ref made this call. That way, the Packers could have immediately challenged the referee’s decision to allow the third down to be replayed. Attorneys are well-suited for this kind of role assisting football teams. We spend a lot of time obsessing over the details of various procedural rules, splitting hairs on when Rule X or Rule Y should apply and why. And we have to be quick on our feet when we’re standing before a judge explaining why he or she is wrong (always a delicate situation). Heck, the similarities are enough that some referees are even attorneys.
Hopefully the Packers game today won’t have any bad referee calls (we’ve had enough in the past year). But if they do, maybe it’s time for me to start paying attention to football and give Coach McCarthy a call!