ESPN producer on illegal bat: “We all missed it live”


One of the odd aspects of the Seahawks winning Monday night’s game on a bad call is that ESPN made no mention of it on the air during the game. ESPN’s Monday Night Football producer says it was simply a matter of the ESPN crew not realizing it was a penalty in all the action surrounding the game-changing play.

Producer Jay Rothman said in a statement to PFT that they would have offered up extended replay angles and commentary if they had realized the Seahawks committed a penalty, but they didn’t realize it until after the game.

“Our immediate responsibility in the frenzy of the play was to provide definitive looks of the turnover,” Rothman said. “Due to the immediate and decisive call of a touchback by the Back Judge and Referee Tony Corrente, and no disputing of the call by the Lions, we had no signs of the illegal tip. We all missed it live. Clearly, had we caught it, we would have extended the looks of all angles. And had we done so, the booth would have clearly seen the illegal tip. Having said all of that, it would not have determined the outcome of the game, as currently an illegal tip is not reviewable.”

It’s a little surprising that Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and any producers in their ears didn’t catch the bad call because Tirico and Gruden are good at what they do, and ESPN’s Monday Night Football production is usually first-rate. You’d think one of them would have noticed the illegal bat. But people miss things. It happens.

What’s harder to understand is how Gerry Austin, the former NFL referee who sits in the booth with Tirico and Gruden, didn’t notice it. Austin’s entire job is to analyze officiating. This was one of the biggest calls of the NFL season, and Austin whiffed. Perhaps Austin is hesitant to point out blown calls because he knows how hard the job of being an NFL official is. But if that’s the case, he’s not cut out for the job he has. And make no mistake, the job he has is a hard one. Although Mike Pereira does a good job of explaining NFL rules in his role as an analyst on FOX, Mike Carey struggles in a similar role on CBS, and Austin has struggled in his smaller on-air role on ESPN.

Another issue is that the NFL’s rules are incredibly complicated. Players, coaches, fans and the media often have a hard time understanding the rules. Monday night’s game showed that sometimes even the officials miss calls right in front of their faces. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that a professional rules analyst misses some calls, too.

96 responses to “ESPN producer on illegal bat: “We all missed it live”

  1. I didn’t miss it live. Maybe I should switch from being a professor to doing football commentary.

  2. If Wright had head-butted or chested the ball out of the end zone, no problem. I would have called that kind of move the wisest ever. But he was coached by Carroll to bat it out. Seattle is lucky, and all the TV folks and day-after people are morons.

    But psi is a big issue. Sigh.

  3. They’ll do anything to protect the league. That they claim it is for the integrity of the sport is both funny and sad since it constantly leads to situations like this.

  4. Come on Michael. Does this really surprise you? It’s a combination of the NFL and ESPN. That’s like Richard Nixon and Mr. Magoo.

  5. skocpol2015 says:
    I didn’t miss it live. Maybe I should switch from being a professor to doing football commentary.

    Of course you didn’t. Spoken like a true academic

  6. Even the league officials were not “generally aware” of what the rule was. Pathetic.

    You want part-time officials with part-time salaries? Fine. You get what you pay for.

  7. Nobody missed it, including the refs. I honestly think no one knew the rule, including the refs.

    Football has become lawyer-ball.

  8. I didn’t miss it live, and I’m just a dude.

    just say ” integrity of the game” a whole bunch of times and maybe the general public will think it’s a big deal

  9. They call this penalty every time the punter drops the ball in the end zone and swats it out to avoid a fumble recovery for a touchdown. The refs and announcers seem to remember it then.
    I think it far more important that the refs know the rules of the game versus the rubes calling the game from the booth.

  10. Pete Carrol did not know about the rule. If a head coach does not know about a rule I am not going to complain about a producer not knowing the same.

  11. Is it just me or do announcers seem to be missing flags being thrown on plays a lot more often nowadays? I’ll be relaxed after a big play and then 30 seconds later the announcer will inform us there was a penalty on the play.

  12. What is the actual rule??? What I saw posted earlier was that a player could not bat a ball ALREADY ON THE GROUND forward, etc.

    This ball was in Calvin Johnson’s hand and was knocked out forward into end zone….it didn’t fall to ground before the end zone and then get batted out.

  13. Yeah, no conflict of interest in an NBC sports site criticizing ESPN. NBC has never flubbed anything on its Sunday Night Football telecasts.

  14. Of course all the tv people missed it They have so many things going on and already moved on to their next talking points. But those sitting at home found it easy to see. I find that happens a lot.

  15. The NFL really needs to scale back some of these odd and pointless rules, as well as simplify the rule book.

    Of course that means they’ll no neither, and add even more ridiculous rules.

  16. Not gloating here, but I said it the moment it happened. My buddy said, “you think you know the rules better than the officials do?” I said, “I know that’s a penalty.” He bet me drinks for this weekends games. I won’t be going to work on Monday.

  17. The official missed it, which is why television replay shows him reaching for his flag and not throwing it. Clearly the ref had a reason he reached for the flag…. and then realized he was in Seattle and wanted to live long enough to leave the stadium.

  18. Did the NFL Vice President of Game Day Operations (what a wonderful title) see it and know it was a bad call?

    What’s that you say, he was busy trying to figure out how to “weigh” the footballs?

    Go figure.

  19. Epic fail by the officials. No one cares what the talking heads on ESPN know or dont know. Between the mics in their ears and notes on their monitors, we never know what they really know anyway.

    What shouldnt be lost is that it was a great football play by Kam Chancellor after a great scoring effort by one of the best receivers in football. What a shame that another great football play (game) was ruined by another inane botched call.

    The Lions probably would have won – but maybe not – we were robbed of the opportunity to see what would have been a thrilling finish to a hard fought football game instead of another example of ill equipped officials, a broken review system and now the NFL making excuses for both.

  20. Jeff Tripplette would have spotted it and called for a personal foul against the Lions. Or holding. Or pass interference. He makes up calls. Even Troy Barkman has been lucid enough to notice this fact. Phil Simms wouldn’t have noticed since he spends his time admiring himself in the mirror. And there is no way he could have woven himself into this situation.

    The Monday night crew is really weak despite the spin here.

    Now the Sunday night crew might have noticed. Even though Collingsworth is irritating, he is one of the few analysts who has his head outside of his body or not looking at a mirror admiring himself.

    In other news, Chunky Soup spokesperson, Donovan McNubb and his Motha were also unaware of the illegality of batting balls. But then again McNubb didn’t even know about overtime rules.

    Bruce Jenner, now known as Almost Kardashian, used to know about batted balls but she can only speak about this from second hand knowledge. And since he’s a lesbian now, there is no hope she’ll ever have first hand experience with batted balls.

    Barack Obama has released a statement that he knew of the penalty for this – he after all knows everything.

    Phil Simms is whining someone stole his mirror.

  21. BSPN was proud to make NFL look bad after the really crappy MNF schedule it gave them

  22. Updated: How about a forced pause to review any final play of a team’s possession where change of possession occurs in the last 2 minutes to make sure there are no game-changing bad calls?

  23. bullettoothtony says:
    Oct 6, 2015 6:58 PM
    What is the actual rule??? What I saw posted earlier was that a player could not bat a ball ALREADY ON THE GROUND forward, etc.

    This ball was in Calvin Johnson’s hand and was knocked out forward into end zone….it didn’t fall to ground before the end zone and then get batted out.
    The ball doesn’t have to be on the ground. A player may not bat or punch:
    (a) A loose ball (in field of play) toward his opponent’s goal line or in any direction in either end zone.
    (b) A ball in player possession.
    Note: a thrown ball still in flight is not a loose ball.

  24. This just happened skins giants game. Everyone should know the rules. Nfl is just getting worse and worse and it starts at the top.

  25. I don’t understand how Cam’s action was considered an “illegal bat” It’s no different then a forced fumble. The NFL is so ridiculous.

    This still doesn’t change the fact that the Vikings have ZERO Championships.


  26. When will we hear the call for the replacement officials to return?
    If memory serves me right Tirico was one of those crying on the air to get the “real” officials back on the field so we wouldn’t see bad calls.

    I’ve never seen a professional sports league where the officials don’t know the rules..only in Goodell’s world

  27. @streetyson

    Ok…thanks….the rule I saw posted in a post on Espn only mentioned the “on the ground” portion so it must have been incomplete.

    What doesn’t make sense is where you say a player can’t punch a ball in player possession….that’s always been an objective of defenders to punch it out….so if one tries to punch it out on say the 45 yd line and it comes out and rolls towards the 40 (in the direction of the endzone) this rule still applies???…..that’s ridiculous. I know the Banazak rule where you can’t knock it forward to gain extra yardage but cmon!

  28. Just to add though, that the part of the batting rule that says “A player may not bat or punch: (b) A ball in player possession” would make a lot of strips illegal – I’ve seen plenty of strips where the defender appears to punch the ball out and yet I can’t remember ever seeing it mentioned, let alone called.

  29. “Another issue is that the NFL’s rules are incredibly complicated.”

    Nothing complicated about the defense intentionally knocking a ball out of the end zone.

    Come On Man

    The refs get paid a ton of money to know the rules. Tell me how much they were paid for that game last night ?

  30. espn missed or didn’t miss it, it wouldn’t matter anyway.
    the only decision that mattered was the zebras on the field monday night!

  31. Insider7 is correct. There’s no excuse for a multi billion dollar, tax exempt business to field part time officials at the expense of quality officiating.

  32. 1969nflchampionskansascitychiefs says:
    Oct 6, 2015 7:38 PM

    I don’t understand how Cam’s action was considered an “illegal bat” It’s no different then a forced fumble. The NFL is so ridiculous.

    This still doesn’t change the fact that the Vikings have ZERO Championships.


    Kam Chancellor caused the fumble. K.J. Wright is the one that batted the ball out of the end zone.

  33. Wouldn’t have mattered, if he recovered it inbounds or “gently guided the ball out of bounds”…

    Seahawks ball.

    Hold on to the damn ball, Megatron.

  34. What a load of crap. Announcers go out of their way to avoid stirring up emotions to avoid putting the league in a bad light. They’re more than happy to call out players and coaches…make them look stupid…but it is abundantly clear announcers are under directive from Goodell’s henchmen to avoid referee examination. ESPN is not the only “partner” that has lost its integrity due to the master / slave relationship between the NFL and its broadcasters.
    Personally, the league has lost my loyal patronage except for my home team. I can’t stomach more than 3 hours of spoon fed propaganda

  35. @bullettoothtony – ah, your follow-on query came before my added statement, but glad to see we’re on the same page regards punched-out balls.

  36. The thing no one has mentioned is this: The Lions coaching staff missed it too. And if the Lions didn’t know it was a violation, then it’s kind of their fault they lost, isn’t it?

  37. The college replay rules are so much better and don’t cause nearly the delays. The games are determined more by the players and coaches. I don’t think the NFL really wants replay to succeed. They (or bookies) want to have more control of NFL games. It is what it is.

  38. Hell, I was half crocked, saw it and had little knowledge of the rule, but knew enough to think it had to be some kind of rules violation. And this crap about it being subjective, to what, subjective to who the ref would like to see win? This was far more obvious than the one they called on Misi against the pats, where it looked like he was attempting to recover a fumble more than anything else.

  39. It’s extremely funny to me that back in 2012 the replacement refs blew the same call ( in the same end zone ) and the NFL and the public roared and whined to bring back the full time refs. Well, look what happened !!

    Goes to show the rulebook is too dammed complicated and LONG winded, and even the full time refs blew it

    Like they say ” Karma is a B**** !

    You only have yourselves to blame, Mr NFL Shield and the union !

  40. The Lions didn’t dispute it? I watched Theo Riddick point it out to the back judge on national TV! Look at the video, he clearly disputed it.

  41. I saw it too. The illegal bat wasn’t relevant. There wasn’t a Lion within 5 yards and it would’ve went out of bounds anyways. No impact. Good no call.

  42. kamthechancellor says:
    Oct 6, 2015 8:24 PM
    The thing no one has mentioned is this: The Lions coaching staff missed it too. And if the Lions didn’t know it was a violation, then it’s kind of their fault they lost, isn’t it?


    Yes, it’s the Lions fault the refs, who are in charge of ensuring the game is played properly, didn’t know the rules to allow the game to be played properly… lol.

    On the other hand, you know BB would have been screaming at the refs to make sure the call was done right, so maybe the Lions (and the refs) should read the rule book…?

  43. The rule needs be changed. The offical made the correct call. The ball bounced of the defenders hand anyway.

  44. It’s bad enough I had to listen to all of Detroit crying on sports radio today about a call they didn’t even know existed. It’s a dumb rule that needs to be removed, Seattle made a great play Calvin needs to protect the ball better it’s a non story let it go.

  45. Couple random thoughts;

    It amazes me that the common fan has a better grasp of the rules then the people who are paid to know them (refs/announcers)

    It seems like maybe there are too many rules in the current game, or maybe I’m too old, but I miss the old days when the rules made sense and were easy to follow/understand

    Agree with what some have said, coaches should be able to challenge any call, and not loose a challenge if they are correct.

    Last we were robbed of seeing what was an amazing finish to the game.

  46. Isn’t funny how these scenarios arise out of nowhere. In the NFL it seems like the highly improbable happens every other week.

  47. I saw it clearly – it was obvious – and instantly thought it was illegal to bat the ball. I didn’t know what the penalty was, but knew it was illegal. Batting a ball out of bounds or out of the end zone has always been illegal, and I’ve watched football since the Lombardi days.

  48. Give it a rest already. Everybody saw it happen live and on the replay, but nobody thought anything of it because it’s an absolute stupid rule that nobody knew about. And all you dolts on here saying “well I knew it was a violation right when I saw it.” are liars. It’s a dumb rule. The ref’s, the replay officials, the Lions players, coaches, the commentators, NOBODY knew it was a rule. It’s dumb to go back afterward and try and blame the loss on a missed call that nobody knew about.

  49. Funny thing is know one knew the rule as it happened. We all missed it, everybody including the NFL refs from the field on up. The Lion’s didn’t protest because they didn’t know the rule. K.J batted it out on purpose thinking he was supposed to. Pete Carrol came out today and said he would have done the same thing and thought that was a great finish by K.J. Then now it’s a big deal? Please NFL , there are to many rules, the rule book is 3 feet thick man give us all a break. Perhaps we need the XFL back, That was kinda cool and if Vince McMan had played his cards right it may have worked.

  50. Hey Lions fans — you got hosed again. But Calvin Johnson can’t fumble that ball no matter how hard it was hit.

    And Lions fans — don’t regret for one second letting Suh go to the Dolphins. He is doing nothing there except causing trouble. The Dolphins defense is ranked #30.

    I said it before and I’ll say it again — Suh is over-rated and he’s the most over-paid player in the NFL.

  51. Sorry Lions….Game’s Over.
    Zebra out back shoulda told ya.

    Said the Talking Moose Head at Roger World.
    NFL Officiating.
    Controlling the Vegas Line… for the Integrity of The Game.

  52. When I first saw him bat the ball out of the end zone, I didn’t think that was okay to do, but I didn’t actually know the rule.

    However where were the Lions’ coaches during this? Why weren’t they going nuts trying to explain to the officials that the ball was batted out? There was plenty of time during the review for the people in the booth to radio this down to the sidelines.

    As much as I hate ESPN, it is not my intention to back them up, but a lot of times the TV crew picks up on what the coaches are doing and apparently saying to the officials. Nothing here though.

    So the question is: Was the Lions’ sideline questioning the batted ball? If not, then why not…..the game was on the line and they should have been strenuously objecting? And if they were strenuously objecting, then why didn’t the TV crew pick up on that?

  53. riverhorsey says:
    Oct 6, 2015 7:51 PM

    The refs get paid a ton of money to know the rules. Tell me how much they were paid for that game last night ?


    Give or take, about $4,500.

  54. What’s hard to understand is WHY that rule is on the books? I know a kickoff or punt return specialist can tap the ball out of bounds. Why not other players? What is behind the rule?

    In Monday’s game, to penalize Wright would have been the wrong decision. Sure, he broke the rule and tapped the ball intentionally, I believe. But, c’mon man, why should the refs reward the sorryazz Lions who failed to chase it down? Seriously?

  55. djvh2 sez, “Batting a ball out of bounds or out of the end zone has always been illegal”

    But why is it so? To reward the guy who doesn’t do his job and get to the loose ball?

    I understand why a QB can’t fumble the ball forward into the end zone ala Stabler, but why this rule? It makes no sense to me.

    The Hawks deserved their win on MNF. MegaTron fumbled and no Lion pounced on the ball after he did. It was going to go out the back of the end zone without Wright’s tap, so how did this event change the outcome unless the ref enforced this obscure and seemingly stupid rule?

    I forget which game it was in this past Sunday, but a defensive player strip-sacked a QB and pushed the ball towards his teammate because he couldn’t get to the ball himself. This obviously gave his team an advantage and it’s part of the game where the competitor is rewarded for his effort. How would giving the ball back to the Lions after Johnson’s fumble at the 6-inch line be fair?

    Should they put a rule in that whenever Russell Wilson fumbles while wearing a skirt, the Hawks get the ball back unless the defensive player says, “excuse me”? Just sayin…….

  56. crybaby sez, “This is a perfect example of what some might call “bending the rules”

    every coach & player will go as far as the refs will let them

    does that make KJ a cheater?”

    Wait, what? KJ didn’t even know the rule as he said after the game. The ref said he didn’t think it was an intentional act. Johnson fumbled the ball into the end zone. Considering all of that, why was Detroit cheated?

    If the ref gave the Lions the ball at the 6-inch line and they scored, who’s to say the Hawks would not have scored after that? They’ve done it before. You should know that the 2-minute, prevent defense simply prevents your team from holding the lead. Wilson had 2 timeouts and about 1:45 left and the way the Lions were kicking to avoid Tyler Lockette, they would have had the ball at their own 45 or better.

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