Slow-footed umps in the way

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

National Football League umpires have always had to keep their heads on a swivel.

Until this year they lined up in the middle of the defence, which is kind of like standing in the middle of the 401 -- except in the NFL they don't have speed limits on the trucks, otherwise referred to as linebackers.

So, this year, the NFL moved them to the offensive side behind the running backs. Problem solved, right?

Well, maybe not.

In Thursday's game between Green Bay and the Colts, the new alignment proved problematic when umpire Garth DeFelice, after spotting the ball, couldn't get out of the way of Peyton Manning's hurry-up offence quick enough.

The offence can't snap the ball until after the umpire has had time to put it in place and move into position.

But Manning was trying to get the play off quickly and was called for an illegal snap by the referee when DeFelice was caught in the backfield.

ESPN announcers Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski both said DeFelice -- and the new rule -- were to blame.

But an NFL spokesman said on Friday that the league won't change the rule and the umpires will stay lined up on the offensive side of the ball.

They say it's safer that way. Anybody wanna bet league officials might want to reconsider how "safe" it is after the rule makes a few more head coaches and quarterbacks do their best Rex (expletive %$$^&$ deleted) Ryan impression all over them.


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