We see it every week. One team on the football field is ahead on the scoreboard and there is only one minute left on the game clock. Instead of playing another play, even if scoring is a possibility, the team takes a knee to run out the clock. In turn, they don’t risk hurting their players on an unnecessary play and they get out of the game quicker. It has become a norm in the NFL. On Sunday, it was practiced once again as the New York Giants took a knee with 5 seconds left on the clock to seal their 41-34 point victory over the Tampa Bay Bucs. This time was different, though, and the eyebrows of the NFL elites have been raised again.
It is an unwritten rule in the NFL that when a knee is taken by the quarterback the defense relinquishes. Sure they still hit, but it isn’t full force and no one actually goes after the defenseless man taking a knee. This play is safe 99% of the time. The Bucs struck up some controversy by knocking Eli Manning to the ground, instead of surrendering. This act caused a heated discussion between Coughlin and Schiano during their post game handshake. It also caused others to get in on the debate.
The kneel-down play does not have any official rules in the NFL. It is more of an etiquette issue. Should the defenses be required to just stand there and wave their white flags? The game isn’t over and technically it could be a trick play for more points, especially in close games. Why shouldn’t the defense go for the ball? Dallas owner Jerry Jones has been the most outspoken about the play, suggesting that it be outlawed from the game. He says that it is “a wasted play for our fans.” He isn’t the only one getting in on the debate. Darnell Dockett of the Arizona Cardinals said, “The game wasn’t over. I don’t see why Coughlin was…complaining.”
This debate isn’t new. Even the great Lamar Hunt tried to introduce a rule several times to have it voted on that you couldn’t kneel down to end a game. He felt that you should actually have to run a play. This is an age old debate that will probably never be solved. One thing is for sure, just because you are taking a knee, the game isn’t over until the clock reads 00:00.