I usually devote this blog during the NFL season to the Carolina Panthers, but today I'll comment on an NFL issue that has reared up.
The New York Giants -- who come to Carolina Thursday night for an 8:20 game to be telecast both by the NFL Network and locally on Channel 9 -- had beaten Tampa Bay Sunday, 41-34. They had lined up in the "Victory Formation" to take a knee and run out the clock on the last play.
Generally, everyone just lines up and does nothing on such a play, knowing the game is over. It's much like a player dribbling out the final 15 seconds of the shot clock in an out-of-reach game. The defense stops fouling and the offense is then expected not to shoot -- that's the way it should work.
The Bucs, however, on the instruction of new head coach Greg Schiano, blasted the New York blockers and managed to knock Eli Manning down as he took the knee.
Manning and N.Y. coach Tom Coughlin called it a cheap shot afterwards and Coughlin and Schiano had a heated midfield conversation. Schiano later said there was "nothing dirty about it," and that he'd do it again and that he used to do it all the time when he was the head coach at Rutgers.
So who's right?
Coughlin. Just because something isn't technically against the rules doesn't mean you should do it.
When a basketball player is saving a ball from going out of bounds and is in midair, he could technically throw it into another player's face and break their nose to gain possession. Would this be a good idea? No. That's one reason why players are generally taught to throw the ball at the other teams' feet.
There are plenty of other instances in other sports where there are "unwritten" rules that aren't in the rulebook, from baseball to NASCAR to hockey. Most of them, though not all, are designed with sportsmanship and/or player protection in mind.
I don't like all of them. For instance, I hate the idea that baseball players always think they have to retaliate when someone gets hit by a pitch in what often turns out to be an escalating and unsafe incident.
But the ones that have to do with good sportsmanship... I like those. Look, the Bucs weren't going to get the ball on that play. They were simply taking out the team's frustration for losing a substantial lead to the Giants.
Yes, it was technically legal, you can play to the final whistle and so on. People seem to be about evenly split on whether Schiano did the right thing here or not.
But I don't think he did. I think it was cheap. The game was over, and all that was going to do was get somebody hurt.