Each football season, all thirty-two NFL teams begin the quest for the prestigious Vince Lombardi Trophy, sparking optimism from every corner of the football world. Fans watching their favorite teams feel any close call, especially any that goes against their beloved team, is incorrect. Every call can have an effect on the chance their team has at achieving that Super Bowl dream. They listen to the TV announcers and the so-called rules experts on broadcasts and social media. They may even complain to a friend who may have worn the stripes and blown a whistle at some point or at some level who will attempt to clarify what the officials ruled on the field. “Is that the rule? Was the ref correct or did he blow another one?”
It’s a fact: NFL officiating consistently draws the ire of football fans throughout the stadiums, TV rooms, and sports bars around the country. I heard it all through my career as an official. In fact, in my very first NFL game, I was summoned to the sideline by Houston Oilers coach Jerry Glanville. His salty response to my call was legendary: “This is the NFL, which means ‘not for long’ if you make them [ . . . ] calls.” I stood my ground. I knew I was right. (It turned out NFL Films picked up the whole conversation through a wireless microphone. To this day, the clip surfaces on TV from time to time.) The fact remains that NFL officials are accurate more than 98 percent of the time. And the reason is they have spent countless hours every week and many years studying and understanding the rules and philosophies of this game.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading So You Think You Know Football?. In this book, Ben Austro does a great job explaining rules to the NFL fan in a manner that is easy to understand. Although you may not always agree with his explanations—or those of the official making the call on the field—you will understand a lot more than you ever had before if you read this book. Ben has simplified each rule and has done a fantastic job of giving a historical background as to the specific plays or situations that helped put these rules in place.
As I read this book, I felt it could have been titled Everything You Wanted to Know About NFL Rules, But Didn’t Know Who to Ask, since so many rules and questions are addressed. Not only that, and perhaps more importantly, they are explained in a manner that anyone will be able to understand.
So You Think You Know Football? is a great resource to help educate its readers and answer many of those questions that football fans discuss each and every week of the NFL season. It won’t stop fans from complaining, but this book can certainly settle a few arguments.
About Jim Daopoulos
Jim is a former NFL official, having worked as a back judge and an umpire during his time on the field. He moved up to an officiating supervisor in the NFL office, which entailed analyzing game film and grading officials on all the calls they made or missed. He has offered his rule analysis on controversial calls for NBC Sports, ESPN, and several sports-talk radio shows, in addition to the author’s website Football Zebras. Currently he is a consultant for the American Athletic Conference and Monday Night Football. On Sundays during the football season, he can usually be found offering his opinion and answering questions on Twitter as @RefereeJimD.