John Parry explains curious “in the grasp” call

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Although NFL officials should have the same post-game media requirements that players and coaches fulfill (except when they choose not to), the league periodically makes a referee available to a pool reporter after a call, or a non-call, that cries out for in-the-moment explanation from the person who made, or didn’t make, it.

On Saturday night, the league made referee John Parry available to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times regarding a very questionable decision to blow dead a play late in the first half, when Parry concluded that Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was in the grasp and control of a tackler.

The decision was questionable only because Prescott was in the grasp not of a tackle but of a teammate.

“From my view the quarterback’s progress had stopped moving forward,” Parry said. “There were hands around him and another defender was coming, so we went in the grasp to protect the quarterback.”

Again, the “hands around him” belonged to a teammate, not a tackler.

“In the grasp is designed to protect the quarterback,” Parry said, reiterating that Prescott was “no longer moving forward.”

So was his forward progress stopped, or was he in the grasp?

“Hands around the quarterback from my view,” Parry said.

Neither principle applies where the offensive player has a teammate’s arms around him. The “in the grasp” rule doesn’t, as made obvious by the plain language of the rule: “The Referee must blow the play dead as soon as the passer is clearly in the grasp and control of any tackler behind the line, and the passer’s safety is in jeopardy.”

Prescott’s teammate wasn’t a tackler, so Prescott couldn’t have been “in the grasp.” While the rule book doesn’t have similar clarity regarding whether a teammate can sufficiently impede the ball carrier’s forward progress to end a play, clarity isn’t needed because at some point common sense takes over.

Here’s what Parry should have said: “Because it’s so rare to see a quarterback in the grasp of a teammate, I accidentally concluded that the arms around the quarterback belonged to a tackler. With another defender closing in, I blew the whistle in order to protect the quarterback.”

Parry should have said that because that’s most likely the truth. The sooner the NFL embraces the truth in situations like this, the sooner the NFL will dissuade the tin-foil hat crowd from suspecting (as they currently do) that last night’s game was rigged in favor of boosting the fortunes of the predominant team in the nation’s No. 2 market.

Games aren’t rigged. They just aren’t. But people think they are rigged from time to time, and unsatisfying explanations for questionable calls made at key moments of a game that remains in doubt become circumstantial evidence for those who think the line has blurred between the NFL and WWE.

51 responses to “John Parry explains curious “in the grasp” call

  1. nfl wants to live by the protect the qb at all costs sword, then die by the protect the qbs all costs sword.

  2. It was a very bad call.
    But Dallas got a few PI non-calls that went their way that were questionable too.
    It’d say they broke even.
    It’s not the Refs fault they couldn’t stop the Rams run game.

  3. I absolutely agree with this. Just tell us what you saw. From someone’s angle it looked like he was in the grasp. In the moment of action, without stop action and/or replay, with a 5’10” referee trying to see through and around 5 or so 6′-6″ 300 pound guys we thought he was grabbed by a tackler. End of discussion. Say “Oops.” if you want to, but tell the truth.

  4. I mean, he says hands around the QB that to me says the same thing you did just more succinctly. If there are arms around a guy, especially a QB, there’s no reason to believe he’s not in the arms of a defender.

  5. Awful officiating in both games on Saturday. Ball spots for colts and cowboys always a yard or two short. Andrew Luck getting plastered out of bounds on 3rd down.

    I guess this was how the league solved the no AFC championship in chargers stadium problem.

    Greedy league. It sucks to watch a tainted product from a fair competition standpoint. I was rooting for the rams and chiefs and ended up disgusted by the officiating benefits they had all day.

  6. The ref made the right call from his vantage point.
    He concluded that the arms around the quarterback belonged to a tackler. With another defender closing in, he blew the whistle in order to protect the quarterback.

    That wasn’t correct form the TV angle, but on the field thats what he saw.
    Refs don’t see all PI calls, or infractions.
    No apology needed.

  7. Here’s what Parry should have said: “Because it’s so rare to see a quarterback in the grasp of a teammate, I accidentally concluded that the arms around the quarterback belonged to a tackler. With another defender closing in, I blew the whistle in order to protect the quarterback.”
    ————————

    Agreed 100%

  8. If Anton Exum had tried to make a shoulder to shoulder tackle on this play, the league would have fined “stolen” his entire salary and given the other team 15 yards and a new set of downs.

  9. No matter what the officials do, they get criticized. They don’t do their jobs as well as they did years ago because the rules make this game impossible to officiate. Years ago, officials used their discretion in determining things like roughing the passer or pass interference, or when a runner’s forward progression has stopped. But now, they are under so much scrutiny, I think they have just decided to throw flags and blow quick whistles so they aren’t criticized for not calling them. As they keep telling us, they are trained that if you’re not sure, throw a flag or blow a whistle.
    You know what I’d love to see? I’d love to see a pre-season game where the officials come up in the broadcast booth and announce the games and have announcers and former players go down on the field and officiate a game. You could train the former players and announcers for a month or so to get them ready, then let them do it. I think everyone would quickly learn how difficult a job the officials really have.
    I saw some bad calls on both teams in that game, but overall, I thought the officials did a good job. Remember — holding can be called on every play if we want to officiate by the letter of the law. I prefer officials who right from the get-go establish that they are going to let a certain amount of things go for both teams. Let the players determine the outcome, not the zebras.

  10. Here’s what Parry should have said: “I concluded that the arms around the quarterback belonged to a tackler. With another defender closing in, I blew the whistle in order to protect the quarterback. From my angle this is what I saw.”

  11. Ref Parry should have simply stated that along with being

    (1) color blind (meaning, he couldn’t tall who was wrapping up Dak) and

    (2) he is also near-sighted (meaning both he couldn’t see that far AND he just wanted to get out of that interview room and go home).

  12. Does the rule say in the grasp of a defensive player? If it doesn’t say which type player is doing the grasping then the call was correct. The Cowboys should be asking that player why he had his arms around Dak.

  13. It didn’t decide the game. It was a quick call by the ref to protect the QB. I’m ok with it. You all want the players to “just play”, until it’s your QB that takes a late hit and is out for the year. We have heard for two years now about the hit Barr put on Rodgers. Fans will always complain, but protecting the stars of the game is still correct.

  14. Sure, it’s “refspeak”, but I feel like he IS saying that he called what he called because he couldn’t tell, purely in the interests of protecting the QB. Hard to even say he screwed up, because I think anyone in his literal position could have made the exact same call. I don’t see much controversy. If anything, the Cowboy holding Prescott back is the one with an explanation due.

  15. If that was Ben or Tom, they would’ve let him scramble out and celebrate their escapability. Was by no means the reason they lost, but as we all know, calls have been highly arbitrary this year.

  16. xiiprestige says:
    January 13, 2019 at 12:10 pm
    1 of the worst calls ever, and thats saying something.
    //////////
    It really wasn’t. It was a quick call, to be sure. But, Dak was hit by a defender, stopped and spun around, and the official blew the whistle. Quick whistle, but not even top 100 of bad calls for the year.

  17. Plus if a QB is trying a sneak, gets into the pile up with their own guys holding him up to push him, wouldn’t that still be considered in the grasp? Several times the QB is “stopped”, then pushed into the endzone

  18. Awful officiating in both games on Saturday. Ball spots for colts and cowboys always a yard or two short. Andrew Luck getting plastered out of bounds on 3rd down.

    ———————————/—————

    i hope youre not referring to the pay where luck was trying to tight rooe the sidelines and stay in bounds getting more yardage. contact was made while he was in bounds tip toe-ing the sideline. he wasnt giving himself up in any way shape or form

  19. Awful officiating in both games on Saturday. Ball spots for colts and cowboys always a yard or two short. Andrew Luck getting plastered out of bounds on 3rd down.

    —————

    The real Andrew Luck returned yesterday….and it wasn’t pretty

  20. Man that call, the multiple miss holding calls on the rams o-like including that 4th down td on Taco, the terrible hands to the face call on Byron Jones on 3rd and long. We still would of

  21. Eli Manning in the super bowl is in the grasp of like 4 players they let him play it out…dak spun around in half a second and was ruled down

  22. Cheating comes in mysterious ways from Goodell’s zebras. They want LA to get some of this action.

    Dallas was never winning that game.

    Goodell is a cheater.

  23. you can push a teammate across the goal line but you can’t PULL a teammate across the goal line. That is the rule hat should’ve been applied

  24. Mayer v Belichick states the NFL is entertainment just like the WWE. If the ref can fix a match then a ref can certainly influence a game unless you believe WWE is real. Are we suppose to think Goodell is not trying to fix games when his number one goal is money?

  25. Diehard Ram fan here. It was a laughably bad call. Even worse is that they’re trying to explain it away. But overall the Rams showed that they are the better team.

  26. There were at least four times that the refs gave a half or more of a yard more yardage to the Dallas team than they earned on the field – it was so bad I was watching the gifts pile up.

    No problem – when you have NO talent on an offense, you need to whine. I wished the refs would have left Dakota on the play alone to get smashed into the turf. What a joke he truly is – three years, two playoff losses, and nothing to show for the hype.

  27. hess97 says:
    January 13, 2019 at 12:01 pm
    Awful officiating in both games on Saturday. Ball spots for colts and cowboys always a yard or two short. Andrew Luck getting plastered out of bounds on 3rd down.

    I guess this was how the league solved the no AFC championship in chargers stadium problem.
    ——————–

    A few bad calls didn’t make the Colts play like garbage yesterday. Besides, even if they had won, the Chargers are making sure the ACFCG won’t be in LA.

  28. defscottyb says:
    January 13, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    Romo > Dak
    ———————–

    LOL. He has a grand total of 1 more playoff win than Dak.

  29. 1 of 3 game changing calls/non-calls against the Cowboys yesterday.

    This “in the grasp” nonsense, ended a drive where the Cowboys were having some success, & moving down the field.

    2. The hands to the face call was very ticky tack. Without that call, Rams punt. Instead, they go on to score a TD.

    3. 4th & Goal. I challenge anyone to watch that replay & tell me holding shouldn’t have been called. There were multiple molestations on that play, I’m surprised Taco still had a jersey after. Most likely 4 pt difference there.

    Don’t get me wrong, the Dallas D laid an egg yesterday, & deserved to lose with that performance. However, without these 3 game changing call/no-calls, the end result would’ve been different. I’m not saying Cowboys would’ve won but, the game would’ve been a LOT closer.

  30. The “forward progress stopped” comment is curious. That has nothing to do with the play when a QB is in the pocket in a passing situation. And this is a Referee, the crew chief, who made this comment? The NFL needs to pay these Refs better money and hold them to a higher standard. It’s never going to be perfect but it’s as bad as ever these past couple of seasons.

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