This might be the most shocking thing you'll hear all season: NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira says that when Ryan Clark tried to saw Wes Welker in half, he was well within the rules. As in: he shouldn't have been flagged.
Um ... what?
Don't misunderstand, I miss the days when players were actually allowed to tackle each other, it's just that the NFL -- through their actions this season, anyway -- have been advocating for just the opposite. Until Pereira escaped the compound, went through Kool-Aid detox and offered this, via the Boston Herald's Ron Borges:
"A lot of people think it's a foul to leave your feet," ... Pereira said yesterday from New York. "Launching is not a foul. There is nothing in the rulebook that states that at all. It's a misconception people have.
"It is a foul to hit with your helmet against a defenseless receiver. It is a foul to throw a forearm into the neck or head area of your opponent. I don't think either of those things happened. I'm not a fan of those high hits but if you do it with your shoulder you're OK."
Wow. I'll admit it: I was under the impression that leaving your feet and leveling a defenseless receiver was an automatic 15. Pereira, who will no doubt be fined by Commissar Goodell for straying off message, reiterates that Clark's hit was within the rules: "When you look at it and slow it down it probably was not an illegal hit. You might have to factor in that it was deflected early and does that make it become late. But the actual hit itself is probably OK."
Pereira does admit that although the hit was "okay," officials are told to err on the side of caution, hence the flag.
"The rule clearly states if you don't lead with your helmet it's not a foul, but we threw the flag and I'm happy we did because I think we need to do it when in real time it looks so tough. It looked like a decleater type hit."
Which sounds like the usual talking points. Still, it's good (and, frankly, shocking) to know that the NFL hasn't completely abandoned the notion of "tackling." Of course, given the league's arbitrary nature on meting out punishment, I fully expect Goodell to ban Clark for life.