Apparently, there is a very fine line between becoming a Super Bowl MVP and the biggest laughing stock in the history of the NFL, or better yet, sports in general. Had the last 3 seconds of this year’s Harbaugh Bowl gone a bit differently, that’s exactly what could have happened to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
Video has surfaced of the reigning MVP telling his teammates on the sideline that if San Francisco 49ers kick returner Ted Ginn, Jr. looked like he was going take the Raven’s kick-off to the end zone and thereby score the game-winning touchdown, that he and the rest of the Ravens needed to run from the sideline onto the field and tackle him before he had the chance.
The problem? Other than being completely ridiculous and against the spirit of the game, there is a good chance it could have cost his team the victory anyway.
The NFL rule book states the following:
Rule 5. Section 1. Article 4: If a substitute enters the field of play or the end zone while the ball is in play, it is an illegal substitution. If an illegal substitute interferes with the play, it may be a palpably unfair act.
Rule 12. Section 4. Article 3: Palpably Unfair Act. A player or substitute shall not interfere with play by any act which is palpably unfair.
Penalty: For a palpably unfair act: Offender may be disqualified. The Referee, after consulting his crew, enforces any such distance penalty as they consider equitable and irrespective of any other specified code penalty. The Referee may award a score.
I would assume that players running from the sidelines onto the field to make a tackle would be considered a “palpably unfair act,” and as a result, the officials could have called the game in favor of the San Francisco 49ers.
Granted, there are a whole lot of “what-ifs” in this scenario, but it’s interesting to think about what may have happened.
Who knows what the officials would have decided to do had it happened, and I can imagine they are incredibly relieved that they were not put into the position to make that choice. Nevertheless, one thing is certain: Joe Flacco would no doubt be remembered as one of the biggest fools to ever play the game rather than the reigning Super Bowl MVP.