WASHINGTON — For the second time in three weeks, the Washington Redskins were flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that caught them off guard, this one for veteran tight end Vernon Davis.
Davis took the place of Jordan Reed, who was inactive after entering the NFL’s concussion protocol this week.
While the two playmakers possess different skill sets, Davis became the focal point at that position and got the opportunity for his first touchdown reception as a member of the Redskins:
As the above video highlights, the 15-yard penalty helped set up an 85-yard touchdown return on the ensuing Dustin Hopkins kickoff.
After the game, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden told the media that the team was shown a list of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties this week, and there was nothing specifically mentioned about pretending the football is a basketball:
Fortunately for Davis, the coaching staff didn’t blame him for the Eagles touchdown, as 11 Redskins defenders failed to bring Wendell Smallwood down:
The problem is that the NFL isn’t sympathetic to this excuse. As far as officials are concerned, the message has been delivered to the Redskins for what does or does not constitute unsportsmanlike conduct.
FOX contributor and former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira joined the Redskins’ broadcast to say that the penalty can be blamed on using the ball (or the goal posts) as a prop on the play. The football cannot be used as a golf ball, basketball or any other type of sporting equipment.
So while the officiating video the Redskins saw this week may not have made mention of basketball, Pereira says that is covered in some other catch-all category.
This is very similar to confusion over Josh Norman’s bow and arrow celebration in Week 4. Celebrating a big play towards the end of the game, Norman was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after he fired an imaginary arrow down the field:
Norman, his teammates, fans and even the broadcast commentators seemed surprised by the call. But as Pereira explained, the bow and arrow falls under the same category as shooting imaginary guns:
Unsportsmanlike conduct is one of the most amended NFL rules in recent years, but one worth keeping an eye on for players and coaches.
Davis and Norman are both veteran players and leaders in the locker room, each enjoying a good first season in D.C. In order to make the best possible impact on this team, greater discipline and restraint are needed.