Taking a closer look at the Joey Porter “clarification” in the new rulebook

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In the AFC wild-card game between the Steelers and Bengals, Pittsburgh assistant coach Joey Porter entered the playing field following a head injury suffered by receiver Antonio Brown. Porter lingered long enough to draw the ire of Bengals cornerback Adam Jones, who eventually expressed his dismay with Porter’s antics by bumping into an official, drawing another 15-yard penalty that, when added to the 15-yard penalty triggered by Vontaze Burfict’s concussion-inducing hit on Brown, allowed the Steelers to swipe a win and extend Cincinnati’s postseason skid to 0-for-25 years.

The NFL responded by changing the rules regarding coaches entering the field. But the NFL has insisted that it’s not a formal rule change but a clarification of the existing rules.

Regardless of what the league or anyone else calls it, the Joey Porter Rule shows up in the 2016 rule book as new language aimed at keeping Porter and all other assistant coaches off the field: “The Head Coach may enter the field to check on the welfare of a player who is injured, but no assistant coach may enter the field.”

The rule previously on the books should, if enforced as written, should have kept all coaches off the field: “During any timeout, including an intermission, all playing rules continue in effect. Representatives of either team are prohibited from entering the field, unless they are incoming substitutes, or team attendants or trainers entering to provide for the welfare of a player, and any game-type activities are prohibited on the Field of Play.” However, game officials routinely allowed teams to violate the letter of the rules, with head coaches and assistant coaches and other players streaming out to the field when a player is injured.

The “clarification” of the text operates as a significant restriction to the dynamic that game officials routinely allowed, despite what the rule book otherwise said.

As it relates to the language of the rule book, then, the Joey Porter Rule isn’t a clarification. It’s a codified exception to the existing rule created for head coaches, and head coaches only. As it relates to how the rule book had been applied, the Joey Porter Rule is a change to the rules, requiring Porter and all other assistants to stay on the sidelines at all times.

Moving forward, the question becomes whether the game officials will apply the clarified/changed/whatever rule as written, or whether they’ll continue to allow people who shouldn’t be entering the field of play to do so without consequence.

At a time when mistakes by officials regarding things that happen during a play receive plenty of scrutiny, it’s fair to insist that they stop ignoring the plain language of the rule book, on this and any other rule where the book says one thing and the officials allow something else to happen.

Some would say it’s an elevation of form over substance. The Bengals would say it’s a practice that helped keep them from advancing to the divisional round of the playoffs.

24 responses to “Taking a closer look at the Joey Porter “clarification” in the new rulebook

  1. “However, game officials routinely allowed teams to violate the letter of the rules, ”

    As has been the case with many rules that they suddenly decide are important,
    wait for it,
    like PSI. They flat out caught two team in a game heating footballs and they fined them how much and took how many draft picks?

  2. so the zebras fail in a playoff game and there are (again) no consequences for them, shocking

  3. The NFL does a decent job of addressing rule changes and attempting to officiate games as the rules are written. The NBA is terrible about traveling and Baseball allows the umpires to call a much smaller strike zone than written.

    Good job NFL.

  4. Maybe if the rule had been clarified in 2015 (2014 playoffs) when Dez Bryant went onto the field to argue a call 2 weeks in a row without a flag thrown (once without a helmet), it would have been referred to as the Dez Bryant rule.

  5. They should call it the 42 Bengals coaches on the field rule like there was when Bernard went down……..like a ton of bricks I might add

  6. Last year was last year. The Squealers did their normal low class thing and the Bengals got beat. I’m over it and so are the Bengals. The Bengals will beat the Squealers twice this year, can’t wait. On another thought, any team that needs to employ Joey Porter is in a world of hurt.

  7. Porter and Minchak are both lucky they didn’t get their jaws jacked, as they so rightfully deserved. Real low class what Porter did and very stupid for Jones to take the bait. None of that was as dissapointing as seeing referees not being able to comprehend what was happening at the time and let what was an otherwise great game, to not be fairly played out. I’m sure a second set of eyes in New York was watching and could have easily intervened as they were throughout the playoffs whenever the refs missed a number of calls. However, the nfl allowed the steelers to wwe their way to a playoff victory. Bravo Goodell.

  8. Porter left Brown and went to talk smack in the defensive huddle. That’s what set Pacman off. No way an opposing coach should be allowed in an opposing teams huddle to talk trash. A classless move by a classless organization that needs its coaches to try to trip, pull hair, and draw flags to try to win games.

    #freeburfict

  9. You know and I know and everyone knows that Porter did not go onto the field and talk smack. As anyone who as actually watched the video of the events, Porter was completely ignoring ALL the Bengal players UNTIL they approached the group of Steelers helping Brown off the field.

  10. They should call it the 42 Bengals coaches on the field rule like there was when Bernard went down……..like a ton of bricks I might add
    —————–

    If someone put you to sleep with an illegal helmet to the head, you’d go down like a ton of bricks too.

  11. Is there additional language allowing Mike Tomlin on the field during a play?

  12. The bungles and their fans talk trash. But they haven’t won anything. They got no pedigree. They can’t beat the steelers when it counts. Chokes. Love watching the bungles fans riding the escalator out of their stadium after another steeler loss at home.

  13. Bengals DC Paul Guenther went out of his way to speak to Porter prior to the game to ask him not to speak to any Bengal players, and Guenther said he wouldn’t speak to any Steelers.

    Obviously, the league office didn’t bother to speak to anyone at The Bengals for their evidence; and it shows how much respect Porter has for his coaching colleagues; (zero).

    Its OK; we all know; most NFL teams get fines or suspensions, the Steelers just get the rules changed. That’s now five serious injuries or misdemeanours we’ve seen in Bengal v Steeler games, where the NFL has subsequently changed the rules.

    Multiple infractions usually envoke stiffer penalties; not for the Steelers it seems.

  14. I love how everyone wants to talk about porter. How about all the Bengals defensive players on the field trying to start fights when Bernard went down. Burfict was out there no helmet on and another player in the black jump suit went out there and pushed a Steelers player. Don’t mention any of that though then it wouldn’t look like the Steelers ggotall the calls and got away with everything.

  15. If someone put you to sleep with an illegal helmet to the head, you’d go down like a ton of bricks too.

    ———–
    It was a legal hit. Bengals fans want to point out ththathe head of officiating said he didn’t think the Bryant catch was a catch but then ignore where he said by rule the Shakier hit was legal. You can’t have it both ways. The fact that they changed the interpretation of the rule says everything I need to know. It was a legal hit.

  16. Gotta love when a Bengal fan calls the Steelers low class. Have you seen the Bengals roster? Full of high class citizens huh

  17. The entire country knows the Steelers should have been shut down two times that game and it would have been a different game.

    Instead the refs allowed Ryan Shazier and Joey Porter to get out of line with no cconsequences. I’m not a fan of Cincinnati at all. Next time these two play, I will be.

  18. Another Steeler apologist trying to sugarcoat a blatant gift of a playoff game to the cheating stealers. Porter should have been penalized, Bryant’s touchdown should’ve been reversed and shaziers hit was illegal.

  19. Gotta love when a Bengal fan calls the Steelers low class. Have you seen the Bengals roster? Full of high class citizens
    ——–

    Actually, for the most part yeah. More importantly not a single one of our coaches have EVER been disciplined for pulling hair, attempting to trip opposing teams runners, or otherwise disrupting play.

  20. peytonwantsaflag says:
    Jul 10, 2016 9:38 AM

    Another Steeler apologist trying to sugarcoat a blatant gift of a playoff game to the cheating stealers. Porter should have been penalized, Bryant’s touchdown should’ve been reversed and shaziers hit was illegal.

    _____________________
    The Shazier hit was legal he was a runner not a receiver. Shazier didn’t line him up and it was a bang bang play. If it was illegal then why did they change the interpretation of the rule to make it illegal now? Please explain that to me. Don’t mention Green flinching on his TD catch or Burfict running up the tunnel or Green kicking the ball out of bounds.

  21. Joey went out there and piked a fight and yall know it. We shouldnt of won that game and thats that.

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