Posted Sep. 18 at 02:35 PM
The Giants defeated the Buccaneers in week 2, and the last play was a kneel-down by New York. It happens all the time in football. Nothing special about that play.
Except this time, the Tampa Bay defense rushed hard at the line and made contact with quarterback Eli Manning. He took a quick knee and tumbled backward (in something of a tribute to soccer players, there were some theatrics). The game ended as expected, but Tampa Bay actually contested a play that almost always ends with a ceremonial snap, some handshakes and fans headed toward the exits.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin didn't like it, and he let Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano know moments later: Coughlin was seen lecturing the rookie coach about NFL etiquette. It's clear that a two-time Super Bowl winner has plenty to teach a coach with two professional games under his belt. But what's less clear is whether Schiano's team really did anything wrong.
On one hand, it's an unwritten rule that when the winning team can simply run out the clock, the game is over and there's no reason to risk injury on a meaningless play. But on the other hand, any play where the center snaps the ball to the quarterback could be bobbled, creating a turnover that could change the outcome of the game. Was Tampa Bay grasping at their last, slim straws of victory, or being sore losers in a game where Eli Manning burned them for more than 500 yards?
This particular dilemma can't happen in fantasy football, but there are ethical parallels. When Marques Colston first came into the league years ago, some league management sites had him listed as a wide receiver and a tight end. In other words, you could put a productive receiver in the tight end spot and have a distinct advantage over your opponent.
Some argued that Colston clearly wasn't a tight end and owners shouldn't be allowed to use him there. Others said that if he's technically listed as a tight end, an owner who wants to win would be silly not to put him there and take advantage of the situation. Are fantasy owners supposed to play by the letter of the law... or the spirit?
How about on draft day? If an owner takes the wrong player -- maybe the wrong Steve Smith -- or simply hits the wrong button in an online draft... what happens? Do you play by the spirit of the game and let them get the player they really wanted? Or does the choice stand and they're forced to take who they legally selected?
Like the NFL, fantasy football is a game played by adults who tend to take it pretty seriously. There's usually money on the line -- billions in their case... a bit less than that in ours. But there are also rules of etiquette, and unwritten codes that teams follow in the pursuit of good sportsmanship. And it's not always easy to see where the line is drawn.
If an owner makes a trade offer online and fails to rescind it... can the other owner accept even if an injury now makes the deal lopsided? Can an owner submit a lineup two minutes late if the games still haven't started yet? Can an owner add and drop a bunch of players, triggering a waiting period and "locking" available options on the waiver wire? Can an owner throw a game if it helps them get a better draft pick or get them the opponent they want to face in the playoffs? What happens when "unwritten rules" conflict with the real ones?
In the case of the Buccaneers, what were the odds that Eli Manning would fumble the snap and it would actually lead to a touchdown? One in 100,000? Whatever it is, it's better than the zero percent odds if they had conceded the kneel-down. Technically, they were simply doing what they could to win. If it had worked, the team would be praised for their innovative defensive play-calling. But by doing so unsuccessfully, they violated an unwritten rule in the NFL. And -- just like in a fantasy league -- the results are controversial.
Personally, I have no problem with that kind of play, as long as there was a tiny chance to win (not down by multiple scores) and nobody was diving at legs or taking cheap shots. That maintains both the letter and spirit of the rules. The written ones, anyway. As far as the unwritten ones go, that's for the players in the league -- the real one, and your fantasy one -- to decide. Good luck this week.
Youtube Play Of The Week: Judge it for yourself, with some coach reactions here.
Does your league have "unwritten rules" and what are the consequences of violating them? How do you feel about what the Buccaneers did at the end of the game? Share your thoughts below.
Posted by Steve Wells | Sep. 18 at 05:41 PM
Just joined a league with semi-sloppy written rules (bad thing obviously). Net result was big loopholes where those who completely ignore (what is obvious to some of us)unwritten rules/ ethics had major advantages over those of us that tend to follow the unwritten rules. Bottom line is many people ended up angry or unhappy and we lost good owners because of this. Thankfully we did do a major rules rewrite, but point is that people that "make a living" thru finding/ exploiting loopholes make things less fun and enjoyable for the vast majority, and that can't be a good thing.
Posted by Richard Spinella | Sep. 18 at 07:11 PM
Im in a fantasy league BB and we are in the playoffs me head to head against another player and the player I beat in the previous round wants to see me lose. So he decided to trade all his very good players Haliday, Weaver, Sales etc for bench guys. When I set up the league I thought I set the trading deadline but evidently I didn't. It's not a money league it was suppose to be for fun..oh well whatever. Next year they are both out of the league I hope they have fun.
Posted by James Crawford | Sep. 18 at 07:53 PM
The Bucs were trying to win the game and however slight, still had a chance to get the ball back. It's interesting that all the analysts think what the Bucs did was wrong, yet all the past players and coaches are saying they don't have a problem with it. Besides, it was easy to tell that the Bucs were going to gun it. They were deep in their stances and I'm to be told the guys six inches from their faces didn't have a clue? There's no ethical violation here. You play football for 60 minutes, not 59 minutes and 55 seconds.
Posted by Cody Hager | Sep. 18 at 09:25 PM
I've seen Kurt Warner fumble a snap to lose a game against the Rams years ago. So it could happen. But as a fantasy football guy, I would be so bitter if my QB twisted his ankle on a play like that.
Posted by Michael Rogers | Sep. 18 at 09:41 PM
Sure it's fine. Similarly, I would expect Schiano to have no problems when Eli's brother's Broncos play the Bucs Week 13 this year, if Von Miller obliterates Freeman after an interception and during the runback when Freeman is 15 yards behind the play because, hey, Miller would just be preventing Freeman from making an unlikely, but still "possible", tackle, right?
Posted by James Crawford | Sep. 19 at 06:53 AM
If you're on the field and the clock's still ticking, you should be ready to play.
Posted by DAVID DIGREGORIO | Sep. 19 at 10:39 AM
Last year I picked the wrong Gronkowski in a computer league. Ended up costing me $350. I never complained. If the play had worked for Tampa, (and two Tampa players were right on top on Manning when he went down) we would have had a second miracle in the Meadowlands.
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Sep. 19 at 11:52 AM
I guess I used a loophole to my advantage this year. I drafted in a 12 team league on the Thursday after the season opener. The league rules stated that stats from the Wednesday DAL-NYG game would be counted. I drafted Ogletree in the tenth round after I had already taken Cruz, Julio and Garcon as my top 3 receivers. I started Ogletree over Cruz, who did not have a good game in week 1. As it turned out, I would have won my game even if I started Cruz. I'm curious as to whether anyone sees this as a violation. I do not because the other eleven owners had the same opportunity to draft Ogletree.
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