Even though it appeared that Lions linebacker Jamie Collins was trying to demonstrate something that had happened to him, officials went letter-of-the-law in ejecting him yesterday.
Via Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press, NFL referee Alex Kemp used the strictest interpretation of the rule to throw the veteran linebacker out early in the second quarter.
Kemp told a pool reporter that while players are allowed to put a hand on an official’s shoulder or make similar benign contact, he viewed Collins putting his helmet into his chest as “unnecessary.”
“No, players are allowed to touch officials, put a hand on your shoulder, or something of that nature,” Kemp said. “But unnecessary contact with a game official — it’s Rule 12-3-1-E — covers unnecessary contact to a game official. So, that’s what I went with.”
The rule reads: “Unnecessary physical contact with a game official. Under no circumstance is a player allowed to shove, push, or strike an official in an offensive, disrespectful, or unsportsmanlike manner. The player shall be disqualified from the game.”
Collins’ move might not have been wise, but it’s hard to interpret it as “offensive, disrespectful, or unsportsmanlike.” Regardless, Kemp immediately whipped out his flag, and after a short huddle with his crew, ejected Collins.
When Kemp was asked if he could have simply called Collins for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, he replied: “Not with his actions, unfortunately.”
Asked if the rule prevented him from ruling on intent, Kemp said: “I ruled unnecessary contact.”
Yesterday’s game was Collins’ first with the Lions, after they gave him a three-year, $30 million contract to come over from New England to add some leadership.