Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Sep 2005

Trotter, Mathis Ejected in Pregame

A pregame scuffle between the Falcons and Eagles resulted in Jeremiah Trotter and Kevin Mathis being ejected. This happened before a Florida-Florida State game once. Has anyone ever seen it in the NFL? I don't think I've ever seen an official throw a flag during pregame warmups. The ref is looking in the replay booth to see what happened, which I believe is improper, as there's no listing in the rule book that allows the ref to review such things. Are you ready for some football?

UPDATE: I just checked the Record & Fact book, and it's very clear that only certain types of plays can be reviewed via replay. Pregame fights are not among the penalties that referees are permitted to look at.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 12 Sep 2005

46 comments, Last at 14 Sep 2005, 12:28pm by Gaius


by Adam (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 9:46pm

Joey Porter and William Green last season.

by Harris (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 9:48pm

Great. An All-Pro MLB vs. this nobody from the Falcons and now Simoneau gets back the job he lost last season. Welcome to the hell that is being an Eagles fan. Dammit.

by Adam (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 9:48pm


Both teams going at it at the 50 yard line.

The pregame might be better than the game.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 9:49pm

Wasn't there a scuffle between the Ravens and Steelers last year or the year before?

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 9:51pm

Yep, Adam was right. Green-Porter was one-on-one, though, not a big skirmish like this. Did you see Marty Mornhinweg looking like Jeff Van Gundy?

by tim (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 9:55pm


If i was a coach, and could get the opposing team's middle linebacker thrown out by sending my nickleback at him, i'd do it.

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 10:01pm

It sure looked to me like DeAngelo Hall threw a punch, too. They haven't said anything about him being ejected.

by jebmak (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 10:05pm

Boy, I hope I don't regret laying down a lot of money on those stupid Eagles who just lost their run defense.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 10:13pm

MDS --

Regarding the replay, the bobbleheads at ESPN say that Walt Coleman (ref-in-charge tonight) was instructed to do so by the NFL Director of Officials (or whatever his exact title is). They implied Coleman was told to make sure the players he was throwing out, in fact, threw punches.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 10:14pm

Good thing this was before the game. If they waited until afterwards, their presidents wouldn't let them go to their bowl games.

by rk (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 10:16pm

When Porter and Green got tossed last year, they checked the replay first. I don't know if that makes it legal, but there is a precedent.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 10:24pm

I think the fact that it's before the game makes it not covered under the replay rules, so the officials can review the tape at thier discresion.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/12/2005 - 11:19pm

When do the guys get paid, before or after the first game? If you get booted prior to kickoff, can you lose a game check?

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 12:07am

Sorry for the off-topic post, but it is related to Eagles-Falcons. Can anybody explain the rule on Michael Vick's fumble to me (and the subsequent challenge)? I'm trying to figure out how something could even possibly be an incomplete FORWARD pass when the ball went about ten yards BACKWARDS (and it wasn't a knockdown, because it wasn't out of his hand yet) Can a play seriously be ruled an incomplete pass even if the ball goes backwards?

by Steve Zielinski (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 12:08am

Bettis and Sapp briefly got into it a bit the last time Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh played. The referees did not hand out penalties on that one.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 12:11am

Ryan MC: If Vick's arm was moving forward with the ball when the ball got batted backwards by a defender, it would be an incomplete forward pass. In the case of the play, however, the ball was knocked out of his hand before it started moving forward.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 12:14am

Can a play seriously be ruled an incomplete pass even if the ball goes backwards?
Yes. Consider everything about the play to be the same, except we'll say Vick's arm had started going forward. The ball will have little forward momentum, so the backward momentum generated by the Eagle defender swatting it, will be pretty much the same as it looked on TV. Momentum is essentially a vector, so tiny forward momentum is overcome by large backward momentum, and the ball goes backward.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 12:16am

Makes sense. I appreciate the clarification.

by Adam H (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 12:48am

Quote of the night so far, Madden "You talk about the DVD offense, if you take one of those D's out of there...."

by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 12:54am

I thought Madden was going to follow that up with a Ron Mexico reference.

by Walt Pohl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 12:54am

Now I want to know: what was really in that IV they gave Brian Dawkins?

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 1:12am

Pure, undiluted rage-ahol

by Adam (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 1:49am

I believe we have our first Keep Choppin' Wood winner of the year.

Thanks, Trott.

by random (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 2:41am

Are we going to need to update that whole David Akers being the best kicker in the league thing?

by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:02am

I thought it was a really good idea for the ref to check the replay. I very much doubt there's any rule covering review of pregame scuffles, and they should make sure of their ruling if they can (especially if it's not going to slow the game down or anything).

by tim (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:13am

Spearing is still a penalty in the NFL, right? Like that hit mcnabb took in the sternum, after the pass was thrown would count as that, as opposed to vick's push out of bounds personal foul call.

by andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 7:50am

postgame comments, one of the falcons explained why it was so emotional:

"biggest game of the year so far".


by JD (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 8:34am


I thought that should have been a spearing call too ... but I haven't been able to find any comment on it in the game recaps? ... and Madden never commented on it during the game, which I find really surprising considering some of the other stupid things he says

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 10:08am

postgame comments, one of the falcons explained why it was so emotional:
“biggest game of the year so far".

sounds like the famous quote from Casey Stengel after Don Larsen's perfect game--when a reporter axed him "is that the best game you've ever seen him pitch", Casey said "so far"

by Adam H (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 10:17am

"Are we going to need to update that whole David Akers being the best kicker in the league thing?"
Did anyone else notice how eratic Bartrum was long snapping? Detmer was chasing them all over the place.

by Gaius (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 10:55am

Glad to see Football Outsiders is well ensconced at Deadspin, the sports-oriented commercial blog recently introduced under the auspices of the Gawker group [home to Wonkette, Defamer, Fleshbot, and other popcult web destinations]. I checked them out this a.m. while drinking coffee and came here via their link under the "scuffle" article.

by CNE (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 11:59am

In case you missed it, Madden actually said in the second quarter that the Eagles neeed to "keep choppin' wood."

Did Akers hit himself with an axe? Seems like it, since he missed two FGs in the first half.

by MCS (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 1:05pm

Post 31 sound like a thinly disguised ad to me.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 1:39pm

(#26, #28 )--

That hit sure looked like leading with the helmet to me, which is still a penalty, but rarely called.

Especially when the play breaks down into a melee (like that one did) -- I'm pretty sure none of the zebras was in a good position to just just where the Falcon player's (Lavalais?) helmet was.

by Martin (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 2:36pm

re: 15 If I remember well, this is the game that prompted the NFL to ask the referees to be on the field during warm-ups to assess penalties when something like that happen.

by SLB1 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 2:59pm

The best part of the melee was the commentary by the ESPN crew, particularly Michael Irvin. What a clown. What's the over/under on the number of weeks until Tom Jackson short circuits and just grabs him and repeatedly slams his face into the desk? Deion Sanders was a terrible "football personality" when he was on CBS, but Michael Irvin is the worst.

by zach (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:15pm

horrible game for mcnabb and the eagles. but on the bright side, that's the toughest team we'll have to play until the playoffs.

by ChicagoScott (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:43pm

IMO, the NFL needs to come down real hard (multi-game suspensions) on players who fight. We don't want this league turning into the annual Miami-FSU gangsta-brawls. Or a Pistons-Pacers game.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:15pm

Re #36: I'm going to have to start watching "Monday night Countdown" I don't want to miss that live, and you know ESPN won't rebroadcast it.

by zach (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:31pm

#38: or even worse, becoming like hockey!

by John B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 7:04pm

Have any fines come out of this? Trotter is adamant he never threw a punch, and I sure didn't see one on the replay. This was a ridiculous ejection that actually impacted the outcome of the game, and I'm interested in seeing whether the league tries to fine Trotter, and whether he appeals the fine. Is there an appeal process, and what is it? As to #38, multi-game suspension is completely out of line. I saw Mathis push Trotter and Trotter grab his face mask, then a lot of pushing and pulling. I've seen much worse in the course of the game at the end of plays without even seeing a flag.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 10:03pm

Trotter claims on his radio show: "Unecessary Roughness" that the incident started from Atlanta players and coaches telling the Philly linebackers they were warming up and practicing to close to Atlanta. Trotter came over to defend his linebacking corps. He says Mathis and Atlanta coach Emmitt Thomas (I think I have that name right), then started trash talking and Mathis then lunged at Tortter and punched him, while Trotter then claims he grabbed his face mask to restrain him. He is adamant he did not throw a punch.

He also noted that the officials had made pre-game altercations a "point of emphasis" for this year during training camp, which is the reason for the stiff penalties. He couldn't understand why DeAngelo Hall wasn't also thrown out, since he knew he also threw a punch.

The later altercation occurred as Atlanta was walking off the field to the locker room, the Eagles started dancing in the middle of the field in one of those team psych up for the game type of dances, when Ike Reese fired up Atlanta by claiming they were disrespecting Atlanta by dancing on the Falcon in the middle of the field. This caused much of the Atlanta team to race back across the field to try to start something with the Eagles players there.

Trotter said the Eagles offense suffered from McNabb not having enough time in the pocket and getting too much pressure too quickly. I was surprised at the essentially open criticism of the offensive line play of his teammates by Trotter.

Final comments from Trotter on the game outcome. "Atlanta just won their Super Bowl." Only its September. So true.

by Dan L (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:11am

DeAngelo Hall has a record of fighting. At Virginia Tech he fought Antrel Rolle in the Miami game, which VT won. Of course, the next game was against Pitt, who had Larry Fitzgerald catching everything thrown his way. Hall was out for the first half (or maybe all) of that game. I really believe it cost the hokies that game, as the final score was 31-28, and Fitzgerald was 8 catches for 108 yards with a TD. Of course, this time he didn't get kicked out, which, given how well he covered TO, might have cost them the game even with Trotter out.

by Gaius (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 10:27am

MDS: Re your #33 re my #31...Really? I sound like a PR flak? I'll take that as a compliment, because it does tie in slightly with what I do professionally, though I have no connection with Deadspin or the other commercial blogs noted.

I'm just a longtime fan of FO, and hope the cross-pollinization with Deadspin helps this site.

In truth, I find the Gawker Group blogs lame and predictable. They rarely if ever break any new stories and are knee-jerk gossipy ranters. At first I was glad they'd gotten into sports. I checked them out earlier this morning and -- surprise -- they're boring.

by MDS (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 10:58am

Gaius, check that comment again; I didn't write it. Even if it were an ad, I have no problem with a blogger using these boards to tell people about his blog, as long as it's relevant to the discussion at hand and not spam. And anyway, I know the guy who runs Deadspin, so I'm happy to give him a little plug at FO. If I had a problem with it I would have deleted it.

by Gaius (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:28pm

MDS: Yikes -- my previously referenced comment should have been keyed to poster MCS rather than MDS. I should have had more coffee to clear my eyes before posting. Thanks for the heads-up.

I realize Deadspin is a newer blog, and am glad they take a popcult approach to sports; I hope they develop a distinct voice to set themselves apart rather than reiterate the general cattiness of the blogosphere.

One of the things I love about FO is that commentary about pop science, statistics, music, literature and so forth are part and parcel to the scheme. Goes along with my fantasy that sports represent a microcosm of the universe -- an open system that interacts with other systems...

Enough of this -- back to editing science writers.