Jim Harbaugh Is A Smooth Talker OR These Refs Are Clueless
The NFL is quickly running out of good will on their side in their fight against the referees’ labor union. The “replacement refs” a.k.a. scabs, are the biggest reason why. After a rough Week 2 of officiating, fans endured a BRUTAL Week 3 that saw a blatant helmet to helmet hit send Darrius Heyward Bay to the hospital go unflagged, Redskins OC Kyle Shannahan go after an official after the game, and Bill Belichick lose his cool and grab an official to try and get an explanation of some highly questionable calls.
But perhaps the most egregious boneheadedness of the weekend came in the San Francisco 49ers loss to the Minnesota Vikings when Niners coach Jim Harbugh was granted two extra challenges in the fourth quarter…by asking nice apparently?
With 3:33 left, San Fran called a timeout after a three-yard Toby Gerhart run set Minnesota up with a third and seven. It was their last timeout, called in order to conserve some time for their hopeful rally and to set up the defense for a pivotal defensive stand. During the timeout, however, Harbaugh threw his challenge flag because replays made him think that Gerhart had fumbled and Patrick Willis had fallen on it. The only problem? You need a timeout to challenge and Harbaugh had just spent his last one.
But that’s no problem for a charmer like Jim. He called head referee Ken Roan over and explained the situation. From ESPN.com:
Roan said Harbaugh called him to the sideline and said: “Hey, this is something that I want to challenge, but I just used my last timeout. Can I challenge and get my timeout back? How does that work?”
The correct answer, of course, is NO. No you can’t have takesies-backsies on the timeout you just called so you can challenge a play that the whole stadium has now seen to be a fumble. That is the correct answer. That is NOT the answer that Roan came up with, however.
“He asked the guys on the side and they came over and got me,” Roan added. “What I told him was, ‘Well you challenged it not knowing what the result of the play was going to be.’ So I granted him the challenge and we went and looked at it. That was wrong. I should not have. In order to do that, he has to have two timeouts left.”
Ugh. You know how you can compound being wrong about a decision? By explaining your reasoning for the bad decision with some terribly incorrect logic. You only need ONE timeout to challenge the play, the issue is that the 49ers had spent their last one before challenging, hence they shouldn’t be allowed to challenge. Tricky stuff, I know, but try and follow along.
So Roan went under the hood and overturned the play, giving the timeout back to San Francisco. So to recap, Harbaugh spent his final timeout, decided he wanted to challenge instead, talked the refs into giving him the challenge, and was rewarded for it by getting the timeout that he had called back, essentially giving him four timeouts in the second half. Is that a thing we’re doing for the NFC West this year?
Alex Smith made the rally moot, though, even with the aid of the refs with an interception on the ensuing drive…which Harbaugh challenged using the TIMEOUT HE SHOULDN’T HAVE HAD. In short, things got weird in the Metrodome. And the time it cost to watch this circus? 28 minutes real time…for four plays. Efficiency!
Roan is not new to being terrible at his fill-in job. He was also the head ref for the painfully terrible officiating in the Monday night game between the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons, which resulted in both John Fox and Jack Del Rio getting fined heavily for their unflattering words towards the officiating.
In short, Roan may be the worst person to ever be put in charge of rules in the history of anything. He’s so bad, in fact, that he may be single-handedly applying pressure to the NFL to come to terms with the real refs and end this farce.
In conclusion, Ken Roan is heroically bad at his job and the best thing to happen to the NFLRA in a long time.