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.