Friday, February 10, 2012

Letter from Steve Leibowitz

Dear Rabbi Katz and the DEC Football Team,

I carefully read you account of the AFI quarter-final game and viewed the video of the "Five Down" incident a number of times. I also asked our Chief Referee and Game ref Dovi Rabinowitz to have our leading rules expert Avi Steinhardt review the "evidence" before a ruling was made about your appeal.

As far as I can tell from the video, a clear mistake was made by our referees in allowing a "fifth down" to take place. I think their confusion was caused on down two. After the play the refs had a discussion about ball placement or whether a penalty had occurred. Dovi may or may not have announced third down and fourth down on the next two plays. I could not tell by video. After fourth down there was clearly confusion on the field. DEC players were certain that it was now their ball and their offense huddled on the field. The announcement by the refs that it was fourth down coming up was argued, and the refs wrongly determined that it was fourth down and still Flying Pizza's ball. The DEC defense took the field. Based on the video I think that the Refs made an additional mistake by not allowing the DEC defense enough time to set up before allowing the snap. The play probably should have been blown dead.

I acknowledge the refs mistake(s), but the AFI rules do not allow for the re-playing of a game. During more than two decades of playing and refing in the AFI, I experienced more than a few calls that may have impacted the outcome of games. When I was on the winning side it felt like compensation for earlier calls against us. When it goes against us I would always feel like there should be a do over. As a ref I would just feel horrible if I got it wrong. Refs make mistakes and we all have to live with it.

The existance of a video proving the bad call makes the refs mistake that much clearer. But the fact is than not all AFI games are videotaped. Even if they were, we are not equipped to use video reviews to assist the referees. The video of the game is really only useful as a review of what took place, after the fact. The only way to efficiently run our league is to have the decision on the field by the refs stand. The most important thing is that we have refs that are capable, experienced and honest. Dovi is one of the two most capable and experienced refs, and is certainly one of the most honest men I know. He tries to do his best in every game. He is also human and makes mistakes. He made a crucial one in this game.

The DEC football team feels that they have been wronged and I can certainly understand their feelings. You had a great regular season and you were a very solid club heading into the playoffs with a real chance to win the title. It is possible that if the ball had been turned over to you after fourth down, you may have gone on to win the game. Unfortunately sports (and its refs) are not a perfect science, and it could be, that as a result, the better team was not the victor.

I applaud your team for its achievements on the field, both in terms of playing ability and more importantly in terms of sportsmanship.

With love of Israel

Steve Leibowitz
American Football in Israe

Official Decision

Having reviewed the video (see posting) there was an official AFI meeting regarding the possibility of replaying the last minutes or entire game between Flying Pizzas and DEC. Prior to the meeting DEC requested of Flying Pizzas to acknowledge that they had won through official error and agree to re play. Their response was that even though they knew they received an extra down - and they admit knowing it at the time, that it was irrelevant being as they convinced the game officials so it makes no difference.
The officials ruled to up hold the game's outcome even while acknowledging the mistakes made (and hoping to do better next time).
Derech Etz Chaim can add this to a feeling that there is a list of discriminatory decisions made by the league over the years and know their season finished prematurely due to official error. They also can at least find some comfort in a great season and the fact that they know they are the better team.
Flying Pizzas can continue their playoff drive hoping for more help by officials to beat teams they otherwise cannot defeat.
Season Recap and other stories coming up before we close down the Blog for the off season.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Flying Pizzas 5 Downs

Here is the video of Flying Pizzas 5 downs to win their playoff game against DEC this past Sat. night

Monday, February 06, 2012

DEC loses to Flying Pizzas on 5th down!

Who said there is no 5th down in football! DEC lost in the quarter finals to Flying Pizzas when the officials mistakenly, and after protest, mis counted and granted Flying Pizzas a 5th down that began without the DEC defense on the field, where they went ahead and scored the winning touchdown.
It was a close game with DEC on incredible passing from Gilad Silverman leading by 1 point for most of the game. On Flying Pizzas (FP) opening drive they were forced to punt and DEC drove down field quickly but was unable to punch it in in the red zone. FP took scored on their next drive missing the extra point and DEC came right back to go up by 1. The teams each scored one more time to end the first half with DEC leading 14-13.
The second half contined as a defensive battle each team scorning one more time and DEC holding a 1 point lead late in the game. With FP in the red zone and 3 minutes left the DEC defense stopped them again. Chief AFI official Dovi Rabinowitz called 4rth down accurately, DEC held and as the offense was switching onto the feild the FP bench started claiming it was only 3rd down. After consulting with the other official FP was granted another down which they began while players were still protesting to the ref in spite of the fact that the clock had been stopped and the clock official was involved in the conversation and did not see the play start to start the clock. Video confirmation shows it was a 5th down. Fly Pizzas took advantage of no defense on the feild scored to go ahead 25-19 with less then 3 minutes on the clock.
DEC tried to drive and was forced with under a minute to go in the game to go for it on 4rth and long unsuccessfully and FP scored one more time from the DEC 20 to put the game away.
We hope to soon post video of the game as well as a season recap. This was another great DEC team whose season has unfortunately come to a premature end.
Stay tuned for more posts before we head into the off season.