Daily Archives: October 17, 2007

100th Sitting Pugs Post: Intentional Grounding, Pass Interference, Army vs. Navy

It’s appropriate that the 100th post here at Sitting Pugs was inspired by a stream-of-consciousness trajectory that started with thoughts on the position of quarterback, which then gave way to the official definitions of intentional grounding and pass interference. A lot of misguided praise and criticism lands on the quarterback’s head. How do game rules benefit or exacerbate the pressure he’s under every week? The penalty for an intentional grounding (subtract a down and ten yards), even if it isn’t intentional, certainly doesn’t help. According to the Official Game Rules of the NFL 2006,

intentional grounding will be called when a passer, facing an imminent loss of yardage because of pressure from the defense, throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion” (8-3-1; 109). There are six footnotes, clarifications and instances where it won’t be called. For example, “intentional grounding will not be called when a passer, while outside the tackle position and facing an imminent loss of yardage, throws a forward pass that lands near or beyond the line of scrimmage, even if no offense player(s) have a realistic chance to catch the ball (including if the ball lands out of bounds over the sideline or endline)” (8-3-1; 109). Moreover, “a realistic chance of completion is defined as a pass that is thrown in the direction and the vicinity of an eligible receiver” (8-3-1; 110).

And what is “pass interference?” The rule book states that it “can only occur when there is a forward pass thrown from behind the line of scrimmage. This applies regardless of whether the pass crosses the line” (8-2-1; 104-105). Furthermore,”it is pass interference by either team when any player’s movement beyond the line of scrimmage significantly hinders the progress of an eligible player or such player’s opportunity to catch the ball. Offense pass-interference rules apply from the time the ball is snapped until the ball is touched. Defensive pass-interference rules apply from the time the ball is thrown until the ball is touched” (8-2-5; 106). There’s also a list that explains what is and is not always considered to be pass interference for both the offense and the defense.

The 2008 official rule book is out. Click here for more information.

By the way, I finished reading John Feinstein’s book Next Man Up.

It’s an incredible read. I highly, highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in history, not just football or sports in general. After reading those last fifteen or so pages on the 2004 playoffs qualifiers, I found myself almost becoming a Baltimore Ravens fan. The reason I can’t or don’t want to call myself a Ravens fan is because I haven’t seen them play enough times.

I’ve started reading his book A Civil War: Army vs. Navy, a Year Inside College’s Purest Rivalry (Back Bay Book, 1997).

I began reading it today and it was so hard to put down. After reading approximately fifty pages, my emotional state went from curiosity to shock to sadness. How does John Feinstein do it? How does he choose phrases to convey ideas that are actually quite corny and yet avoids sounding overly sentimental? Comment? He mentions in the first chapter that the Army-Navy game used to be an extraordinarily big deal across the nation, “especially during the forties, when Army won the championship three straight times (’44-’46) and went undefeated five times in six years from ’44 through ’49…[but] the last vestiges of that glory were played out in the 1960s” (6).

Instantly, I thought to myself “40s = World War II; 60s = Vietnam War and rise of professional football.” Surely enough, on the next page, Feinstein points out that “Vietnam was a major turning point in the history of military academy football. The popularity of the military dropped considerably during those years, and with graduates from West Point and Annapolis being shipped to Vietnam almost the moment they were commissioned as officers, the notion of a four-year postgraduate military commitment wasn’t nearly as romantic as it had once been” (7). So far, it reads very much like Next Man Up, combining history with anecdotes that hinge around a theme.

Feinstein’s writings on the 2004 Ravens illustrate the struggles the team went through from one week to the next, creating an image of what their season would be: so close and yet so far, a defense that repeatedly outshone and saved its offense. A Civil War also addresses the game-play and team-building aspects of the Army and Navy teams, but it also examines the complexities and multifaceted nature of what it means to play football for an institution that is training you to defend the nation’s sovereignty and liberties.