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Challenge flag penalty not obscure rule, should it be changed?

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt was aware of the rule, but is it a good rule?

Chris Graythen

Twice in the last week, NFL teams have been penalized for blunders by their head coaches when they threw a challenge flag on a play that would be automatically reviewed. The result is a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the cancellation of the review. When Mike Smith did it against the Arizona Cardinals, it did not appear that the play would have overturned anyway, but it gave the Cardinals an additional 15 yards. However, in the case of Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions, it eliminated what would have overturned a touchdown and made the difference in the game.

Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked about it on Friday after practice and revealed that the rule should not be a surprise for coaches, and suggested that the issue might come up in the offseason.

He actually said it three different times. He was asked if he knew about the rule.

"Absolutely," he said. "I didn't know that he (Mike Smith) had thrown it, but they warn you every game and make a point of telling you before the game on turnovers and on scoring plays you can't throw the flag."

Two other comments, after he was asked if he thought it should be changed or will be changed.

"They are very clear about not throwing the challenge flag on those plays."

"I'm well aware of he rule because they make such an emphasis of telling you that."

In other words, he threw Smith and Schwartz under the bus. If Whiz is telling the truth, there is no excuse for that mistake.

Whiz was not so revealing when he was asked if he likes the rule. "That's the rule," he said. "You just live by that."

He happens to be on the league's competition committee and he did say that he though that it would be discussed in the offseason. But if we know anything about the league, they are slow to change things.

In my opinion, it is a very harsh penalty, but it is very punitive for a reason. The league is already allowing coaches to challenge plays and they already are reviewing all scoring plays and turnovers. And the league is very clear that they do not want coaches throwing the challenge flag on those plays.

So if coaches forget or do it anyway, then they deserve to lose the replay. It is as simple as that. If the rule is known and there are reminders, there is no reason to forget.

Essentially, it is penalizing stupidity and disrespect. And I have no issue with that at all.

Do you agree?

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