Brice Butler on unsportsmanlike conduct penalty: Never heard of it in my life

Getty Images

The Cowboys thought they had a first down in the red zone early in Sunday’s game against the Packers after a 22-yard gain by wide receiver Terrence Williams, but the play was called back and then some thanks to a penalty that comes up rarely.

Wide receiver Brice Butler was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after he came into the huddle and then left the field without participating in a play. NFL rules say that if a player “approaches the huddle and communicates with a teammate,” he has to remain in the game to bar teams from creating confusion about which players are in the game. The 15-yard penalty put the Cowboys back into their own territory.

“Never heard of it in my life,” Butler said, via the Dallas Morning News. “[We] couldn’t beat the stripes. You can quote me on that.”

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he’s never seen that call before. Referee Tony Corrente told a pool reporter after the game that it isn’t “an obscure rule” and that Butler “has to stay either in the game or they can call a timeout and get out of it.”

The Cowboys tried passes to Butler on the next two plays, but both fell incomplete. Butler finished the day without a catch and said he “played like trash” in what will be his final game for quite a while.

110 responses to “Brice Butler on unsportsmanlike conduct penalty: Never heard of it in my life

  1. That was a horrible call but we had opportunities to win the game and we did not. Super Bowl teams find a way no matter what and we did not get it done. It hurts but it’s the truth.

  2. Whats the confusion? You don’t see the rule used very often, because teams know you don’t send another player out there if he isn’t going to play. Its the same premise as 12 men on the field. Whats your issue with it?

  3. …Never heard of it in my life, Butler said, via the Dallas Morning News. [We] couldn’t beat the stripes. You can quote me on that….

    You couldn’t beat the Packers, you can quote me and probably two dozen others who post the exact same sentiment on that.

  4. Brice has some ability but he needs to get smarter on the field, if he wants to take the next step in his development (have to admit he took some strides this year). that being said, when was that penalty called all year this year? I can’t remember. substitutions happen all the time, and the flag isn’t thrown right away but rather after the offense produces a first down in the red zone, then the flag is thrown? just another weird officiating wrinkle to this year, did not determine outcome of this game, however.

  5. This was just a mistake and not knowing the rules. Shouldn’t be making excuses.

    Can’t beat the stripes is two obvious missed holding calls that stopped two Packers drive.

  6. For a team that had two weeks to prepare, they looked entirely unprepared, especially early in the game. Getting caught with too many men on the field in the first drive by GB, when they have to know Rodgers watches for it and exploits it, is inexcusable. They had guys jumping around and celebrating tackles on first and second down plays and not being ready for the next play. The Cowboys looked like amateurs that were just happy to be there, early in the game. To their credit, they mounted a valiant comeback, but if they play like idiots the first quarter, they aren’t in that hole and may have won.

  7. We have all seen too many men in the huddle before. What happened was an infraction. I’m not sure it’s a personal foul but it was/is an infraction.

  8. “Couldn’t beat the stripes?”

    Please. The ref’s were tying their shoelaces and oblivious to at least three drive-killing and obvious jersey-stretching holds on the Packer receivers. Everyone watching on TV saw it, but they didn’t (for some reason.) They gave you plenty of chances.

  9. was he the 12th man in the huddle? Ive seen that called before. If not, it sounds like the same competitive advantage that the 12 in a huddle is designed to prevent.

  10. “Never heard of it in my life,” Butler said, via the Dallas Morning News. “[We] couldn’t beat the stripes. You can quote me on that.”

    But you and your team can beat yourself. You did it multiple times yesterday.

  11. We got robbed all night by the zebras all true cowboys fans should boycott the rest of this postseason the NFL has officially moved into the WWE realm of sports entertainment

  12. To be fair to both sides, this was a horrid officiating crew. I may have only seen one ortwo games ever where calls were missed and wrong calls were made.
    To me the problem is the ofc crew in the box calls the shots. If they see something missed they can stop the game, inform the on field refs who then look lke they were right on top of if all the time.
    The on field refs are so used to it they lost there own skills.

  13. I remember way back when coaches like Don Coryell, Sam Wyche, and Bill Walsh were creating pass first, heavy on receivers formations. In an attempt to get mismatches with the defenses they would sometimes pull the fullback, or whoever, from the huddle at the last second. It was the same when uptempo offenses first started coming into vogue. I can recall this penalty being called a number of times back in the day.

  14. Garrett can join the Raven’s Harbaugh as another coach who simply doesn’t bother to know the rules

    That may very well have been the difference in that game

  15. “Never heard of it in my life,” Butler said, via the Dallas Morning News. “[We] couldn’t beat the stripes. You can quote me on that.”

    Typical to blame everything on the refs. What about taking some responsibility for beating yourselves. I’m sure he didn’t complain when they won and other teams blamed the refs for the loss. Same old Cryboys.

  16. I’ve never seen it called either and I am pretty sure I’ve seen players approach the Huddle then get told to get off the field and they run off. No penalties ever called for that. And calling what they were doing a ‘huddle’ was dubious. They were standing around at the time. Some guys were 10 yards apart from each other. No one had begun to Huddle up when he went running off the field. Seemed like one of those rules refs pull out of nowhere just to be seen and heard.

    Not a Cowboys fan.

  17. I’ve been watching football for over 20 years and I have never seen/heard of that call before. I certainly could’ve missed it or forgot it, but I would lay a lot of money down that it’s the only time it was called this year! LOL!! Took 3 points off the board and we all know that could’ve helped at the end…….refs do love Green Bay.

  18. Never ceased to be amazed by athletes’ lack of intelligence.

    OBVIOUSLY you can’t have fake subs, so that the defense isn’t confused by your personnel moves.

    Unless this situation happens regularly and is never called, he’s painting himself as a fool.

    I’d also dispute the refs’ bias.

  19. Absolutely unconscionable for such an obscure rule to be sprung in a playoff game. Worse for it to be called “unsportsmanlike” and carry a 15 yd penalty. I’m sure Butler was only following coaches’ instruction, so terrible that he got blamed for that huge position turnaround.

  20. Wow, just wow. Watching Rogers arm talent is unworldly. Should be a great matchup with Ryan next week.

    brady could only wish he had a fraction of the talent.

  21. I understand what the NFL is trying to accomplish here, but 15 yards and post-play dead ball are both overly harsh for that infraction. And the penalty should be called after on the snap, not after the play imo.

  22. Wow. I’ll admit I’ve never heard of the rule, but it makes sense. Why would you be one of the 11 allowed in the huddle, and then run off the field? Either the offense played the snap with only 10 on the field, or there was an illegal substitution after the huddle.

    Rather than Butler and Garrett complaining about the rule being enforced, how about an explanation as to what Butler was actually doing on the play.

  23. I know the rule and I don’t play professional football. I am not sure if someone was intentionally trying to cause confusion, but that is what the rule was designed to prevent. Is it just me or does Garrett’s crew seems to have more problems with substitutions than most teams?

  24. Never heard of it either, yet you see it all the time in regular season games and its never called. The officiating was crap, how did the Packers not have a single holding penalty by the offensive line ? On the pass play to Jared Cook to set up the field goal, there was an obvious hold by the Packers that didn’t get called. Yet in the Steelers-Chiefs game the ref’s don’t miss the holding call on the 2 point attempt. This is how bad officiating is in the NFL.

  25. No excuse for any coach or player to not know the rules, spend more time on the rules instead of look at me, look at me, and you may win next season. Bill

  26. Typical , lose a game and blame the refs.

    There were numerous plays where the refs ate their flags when GB was on offense.. It goes both way..

    Not a fan of either team.

  27. Almost any serious fan knows that rule and has seen it called multiple times but Garrett has never seen it called? Of course he has, somebody needs to call bs when coaches say crap like that.

  28. hehateme2 says:
    Jan 16, 2017 10:13 AM

    Wow, just wow. Watching Rogers arm talent is unworldly. Should be a great matchup with Ryan next week.

    brady could only wish he had a fraction of the talent.
    _________________________________

    And Ryan and Rogers could only wish that between them they had a fraction of Brady’s Superbowl rings. Oh wait – they do… 1/4th .

  29. suncawy says:
    Jan 16, 2017 10:29 AM
    Never heard of it either, yet you see it all the time in regular season games and its never called. The officiating was crap, how did the Packers not have a single holding penalty by the offensive line ? On the pass play to Jared Cook to set up the field goal, there was an obvious hold by the Packers that didn’t get called. Yet in the Steelers-Chiefs game the ref’s don’t miss the holding call on the 2 point attempt. This is how bad officiating is in the NFL.
    ——————————–
    How did the Cowboys only have one holding penalty on the offensive line when their last TD drive was extended on missed holding against Matthews? Or how about how did the Cowboys somehow not get defensive holding on two obvious 3rd Down plays. My god, the first one, they actually tore the pads out of Adams’ jersey.
    Far as I can see, it all came out in the wash. There is always human error in officiating in all sports. Deal with it. The Packers sure did.

  30. Cris Carter just explained this rule quite well, including why it isn’t called until after the play.

    It’s not called until after the play so that the official whose responsibility it is, can be absolutely sure that the player in question did not participate in the play.

    And again, if this kid seriously didn’t know the rule, mass firings for gross incompetence should be taking place in Dallas. Immediately.

  31. suncawy says:
    Jan 16, 2017 10:29 AM
    Never heard of it either, yet you see it all the time in regular season games and its never called.

    What complete and utter nonsense. Please list all the times you can confirm that you saw a player enter a huddle and then leave the field before the play got off.

    Go ahead, we’ll wait

  32. “Absolutely unconscionable for such an obscure rule to be sprung in a playoff game. Worse for it to be called “unsportsmanlike” and carry a 15 yd penalty.”

    Not much different from Eric Rowe getting called for unsportsmanlike for “pulling another player out of the pile” or whatever it was.

    Never heard that one called either. League is stretching to try and keep games close and impact who advances.

    Look for more obscure penalties called next weekend too if Goodell thinks it will keep the Pats and Atlanta out of the Super Bowl.

  33. The truth about the pass play to setup the field goal…”They did get some help on that final conversion when umpire Bruce Stritesky, who was looking right at T.J. Lang, missed an obvious holding call on David Irving.  Lang hooked Irving around the neck and threw him to the ground, but no call was made.”

  34. What I don’t get is the discrepancy between penalties with the exact same effect;

    – 12 men in the huddle is 5 yards, replay down
    – Illegal substitution is 5 yards, replay down
    – approaching the huddle by mistake, 15 yards penalty

    It’s the same thing!!! Why the difference!

  35. I have no problem with the rule but it doesn’t seem to have been implied correctly. I did not see a “huddle”. There was a group of players standing around waiting for the QB who was a few yards away getting the play on his headset. It looked to me like the player was in that group, looked to the sideline and was called back before the “huddle” happened. I can see an illegal substitution penalty but the unsportsmanlike conduct seemed excessive

  36. I wasnt aware this was a rule but it is a rule apparently so it should be enforced. I dont know if it should be 15 yards but it should be a penalty. You cant send out 3 TE in the huddle and then send in 3 WR. The defense wouldnt have time to substitute. The NFL banned an ineligible receiver rule that NE used against BAL in 2014 but at least there the referee announces who has reported. If thats deception and illegal, this is also deception and should not be allowed (which it is apparently is not), hence the penalty.

  37. Two pass interference calls not made against the Cowboys.. one of them blatant. The stripes made good and bad calls on both sides of the game. Both team came to play and it was a great game. But there can only be one winner.

  38. my_old_name_was_offensive says:
    Jan 16, 2017 10:26 AM
    Spygate, Deflategate….And those are just the ones we know about..
    ———-
    Obviously you don’t know about science or how every team, still to this day, films opposing teams signal callers from the “designated area”

  39. I knew the rule and I’ve seen teams/players penalized for it before…so it’s hardly some obscure, arcane technicality as some have suggested.

    Whether a young depth player can be expected to know the rule is debatable, but I would certainly expect every member of the offensive coaching staff to know it.

  40. Less about the rule & enforcement, but is it “unsportsmanlike” when you just do something plain stupid?
    Unsportsmanlike penalties conjure images of outbursts, cheap shots & dirty play, leaving the huddle for the bench doesn’t strike me as either.

  41. Think about this. Without this rule a coach could send 22 guys onto the field and then have 11 run off before the snap, leaving the defense to wonder what’s up. Garrett should know this!

  42. “Referee Tony Corrente told a pool reporter after the game that….”

    ————-

    Gotta say, reporting from the pool sounds like a damn good job

  43. No cowgirls fan better complain about any missed calls in that game! Devante Adams has his shoulder pads ripped out of jersey and held continuously in that game early on and nothing was called!!

  44. Prerequisite for head coach….read the rules. This must be the one thing Dallas is using for losing again. Just wait till next year, battle sobs

  45. Brice Butler is as much a reason they lost this game as any. He dropped a TD, he didn’t move his body on another catchable ball (short armed and was passive), had the substitution huddle penalty (admittedly a coaching issue) and didn’t complete at least 3 other routes where he had position. Looked lost.

  46. ARTICLE 5. OFFENSIVE SUBSTITUTIONS
    The following are applicable to any offensive substitute who is entering the game:

    He must move onto the field of play or the end zone as far as the inside of the field numerals prior to the snap to be a legal substitution. If he does not, and is on the field of play or end zone at the time of a legal snap, he is an illegal substitute.
    If he approaches the huddle and communicates with a teammate, he is required to participate in at least one play before being withdrawn. Violations of this rule may be penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

    ******************************

    That’s direct from the NFL Rulebook. You can search it online.

    To differentiate with 12 men in the huddle, that is when a player who was supposed to have been subbed off remains, joins the huddle, realizes he should leave the field and does. The unsportsmanlike is when a player comes off the sidelines, communicates with the huddle, and then leaves the field. Standard illegal substitution is your 12 men on the field at the start of the play.

    If I can understand this, then there is no reason that someone who’s job is governed by these rules can’t.

  47. Been watching football since the 70’s and I’ve never seen that penalty. Nobody here has. But our defense cost us the game.

  48. Couldn’t beat the stripes, eh? How many holdings and pass interference penalties did Dallas DBs get away with?

    Never mind their league’s best (at getting away with blatant holding all game) offensive line?

    Refs are the only reason you didn’t lose by 27.

  49. Dallas was clearly trying to run interference with a decoy and the refs picked up on it. Butler didn’t do a thing post-snap. That’s what you get for trying to play games with the opposing defense since none of your receivers could get open without some trash like this.

  50. No one has heard that penalty, because most NFL players and coaches are aware enough are aware enough to know who should or shouldn’t be in the huddle.

    The reason this rule exist, is because the defense is allowed to match up with you as far as subs go if they choose to, you can’t send in a “goal line package” have the defense send in their big guys, to match up then, swap them out with WRs to create mismatches.

  51. nknielsen says:
    Jan 16, 2017 11:09 AM
    What I don’t get is the discrepancy between penalties with the exact same effect;

    – 12 men in the huddle is 5 yards, replay down
    – Illegal substitution is 5 yards, replay down
    – approaching the huddle by mistake, 15 yards penalty

    It’s the same thing!!! Why the difference!
    ————————————–
    They aren’t the same thing. Being in the huddle and not participating in the play is considered worse due the potential impact it has on the defense. Basically, it’s like a hate crime in the sense the officials are to assume intent for the infraction. 12 men, illegal substitution penalties are just that, mistakes in personnel. Being in the huddle and then leaving the play entirely could be a player trying to dupe the defense and change their scheme or confuse them. There is actually a big difference when you think about it.

  52. steelerben says:
    Jan 16, 2017 12:04 PM

    ARTICLE 5. OFFENSIVE SUBSTITUTIONS
    The following are applicable to any offensive substitute who is entering the game:

    He must move onto the field of play or the end zone as far as the inside of the field numerals prior to the snap to be a legal substitution. If he does not, and is on the field of play or end zone at the time of a legal snap, he is an illegal substitute.
    If he approaches the huddle and communicates with a teammate, he is required to participate in at least one play before being withdrawn. Violations of this rule may be penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

    ******************************

    That’s direct from the NFL Rulebook. You can search it online.

    To differentiate with 12 men in the huddle, that is when a player who was supposed to have been subbed off remains, joins the huddle, realizes he should leave the field and does. The unsportsmanlike is when a player comes off the sidelines, communicates with the huddle, and then leaves the field. Standard illegal substitution is your 12 men on the field at the start of the play.

    If I can understand this, then there is no reason that someone who’s job is governed by these rules can’t.

    it doesnt matter. He is a cowboys fan so he would likely complain no matter who they lost to. He is strictly implying that they should give them the Lombardi trophy.
    By the way, that was a great post.. thanks

  53. I swear some you people should be band from commenting on sports, so let me this strait, he comes and he gets called back, now having played football, coached and watched many NFL games, have never seen that call before, but not just people blaming Butler, he did send himself in the game, but it mighty that Refs made that in a playoff game, when during the season you see people go in and out of the game, kind of reminds me of the famous”Tuk” rule, that came out all of sudden.

  54. If anything is going to fixed it would benefit the Cowboys. Like or hate ’em they are big ratings. I’m sure Park Ave. would still like to have them playing.

  55. I’ve been watching NFL games for 40 years. That’s the first time I have EVER seen that penalty called.

    I guess I should look up other obscure NFL rules to see what gets called in the conference championship games this upcoming weekend.

    The Falcons and Patriots need to read up on the obscure rule book.

  56. You’ve been watching for 40 years, but you haven’t watched all the games, clearly, because it’s been done many times, and called several.

    Including the Patriots, so why even bring them up in your post?

  57. Its the coaches job to insure their players are aware of all the rules. Remember the kickoff where the Packer return man stepped out of bounds and reached across the boundary line to pick up the ball? I though out of bounds at the 4. Turns out the rule says if the returned is out of bounds when he gains possession, the ball was out of bounds. Ball at the 40. Even the former pro players in the booth did not know that rule. The return man did because he had a good position coach.

    This was a foolish penalty. Easily avoidable by having the players trained to follow proper substitution procedures. Other teams don’t get called on because they train their players to substitute according to the rules. Even if the players themselves are not aware of the rules or why those procedures are in place.

  58. “What I don’t get is the discrepancy between penalties with the exact same effect;

    – 12 men in the huddle is 5 yards, replay down
    – Illegal substitution is 5 yards, replay down
    – approaching the huddle by mistake, 15 yards penalty

    It’s the same thing!!! Why the difference!”

    It’s not the same thing. This rule has been around a long time. This rule prevents a team from having a player run off the field late after being in the huddle, then another player sneaks on to the edge of the field just before the team is set and is unnoticed, therefore uncovered. It’s to prevent a travesty play.

  59. It may be an obscure rule but it seems to rear its ugly head in playoff games. Anybody remember Brad Childress getting called for 12 men on the field in the Championship game loss to the Saints. It pushed them out of FB range and forced their playcalling to pass which BrINT Favre promptly threw an INT.

    good times, it brings a tear to my eye just thinking of it.

  60. I’ve seen this called before. It’s rare, but that’s because most teams know it’s a penalty…

  61. The better question is what is the definition of a huddle.

    When looking at the replay, there’s no organized group listening in unison to the play being called. Guys were coming in – going out. Some guys were together in sort of a group. Butler comes in for sure – looks at the sidelines the whole time. Never groups with any other players. Then he leaves the field.

    It was a huge negative play because the Cowboys needed to possess the ball more – slow the game down – and keep it out of Rodgers hands. They ended up having that drive stall and punted. GB scored following that. Then the Cowboys went three-and-out the next possession, and GB scored yet again. It’s now 21-3, and Dallas had the ball under seven minutes at that time. That wasn’t in the game plan.

  62. jggallow01 says:
    Jan 16, 2017 8:21 PM
    The better question is what is the definition of a huddle.

    When looking at the replay, there’s no organized group listening in unison to the play being called. Guys were coming in – going out. Some guys were together in sort of a group. Butler comes in for sure – looks at the sidelines the whole time. Never groups with any other players. Then he leaves the field.
    _________________

    He was close enough to the huddle for GB to send substitutes in to account for it.

    If he went out and never made it past the numbers and ran back to the sideline, so be it, but that wasn’t the case, which is why this is a penalty.

  63. There was no huddle. He ran out onto the field, looked at the sideline and ran back. Never got in or approached a huddle because there was no huddle. Watch it for yourself.

    And Green Bay didn’t send substitutes in to account for Brice Butler.

    We’re talking Brice Butler.

  64. Yes, there most definitely was a huddle. I’m looking at it right now. Any time there is communication of the next play to a group of players that’s a huddle. They don’t all need to be holding hands in a circle singing kumbaya for it to count as a huddle.

  65. Lets be honest ,all you cowboy fans thought they were gonna smoke the Packers .when the Packers won you have to come up with excuses !12 men in the huddle is 12 men in the huddle period!

  66. It’s not an obscure rule: it’s a seldom used rule, there’s a difference. Coaching staffs (well, not counting Jason Garrett’s staff) simply know about it and are not sloppy enough to send out too many players randomly to the huddle. Own up to it, ‘Boys. You messed up, got caught, got penalized. End of story.

  67. I to have never, ever seen a fifteen yard penalty called on such an infraction, but worse, the Packers did the same thing all throughout the game, with NO penalty, I think a investigation surly is warranted here.

  68. Tell us one time that penalty has EVER been called in any game……. you can’t huh, because it never has been called a personal foul in ANY NFL game, and how come it was not called on the Packers, who did the same thing throughout the same game. Your comments make no sense.

  69. The play didn’t cost Dallas the game, but it is becoming a pattern that during a playoff game against Green Bay, there will have to be some extremely nuanced rules interpretation to explain another call against Dallas.

    He was never in a huddle and wasn’t communicating with teammates for the next play. Ticky Tack 37-yard foul to say the least.

    But you’re right, they don’t need to hold hand or sing.

  70. I don’t know if that play cost Dallas the game or not, the point is, why was it called on Dallas in that playoff game, when the Packers did the very same thing throughout the game with no penalty, and a personal foul has never been called for to many men in the huddle before, and like you, I don’t think he was in the huddle, I hope Jerry Jones is pressing this point with the league, and asking for an investigation.

  71. Penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct called in GB/Dallas game is Rule 5, Section 2, Article 8e and has been a rule since 1955. Last called in 2014 game between the Redskins and Dallas. The same Dallas as the Dallas Cowboys!

  72. For all of you who dont pay attention to the rules. The last time I remember seeing this called at a meaningful point in a game was the NFC Title game between the Saints and Vikings a few years ago. Fullback Nafahu Tahi was flagged for the same thing in the final minutes of that game as the Vikings were moving into scoring position. Favre threw a pick on the next play ending the drive and the Saints won in overtime. The overtime rule of both teams not having a chance to possess the ball in overtime also came from this game.

  73. And to all the whiners saying the Packers did it too. It’s not against the rule to have 12 men in the huddle on defense as long as there’s only 11 on the field when the ball is snapped. The rule is to prevent trick plays from the offense. Can’t really run a trick play on defense. I thought it was only a 10 yard penalty though. Doesn’t make sense that it’s a personal foul and 15 yards.

  74. CP, Michael Lombardi just tweeted that Obama was just re-elected to be president for another 4 years. Do you believe that too?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!