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Non-call du jour: Disconcerting signals?

Apparently there is an epidemic of disconcerting signals that is breaking out.

It is illegal for a defensive player to simulate or override the quarterback’s snap count. Rarely is the disconcerting signals penalty called (one instance from 2010 against the Colts [video] is all we can recall), but when it is, it is a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct foul.

  • Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said that Broncos defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson simulated the snap count on two plays from the 1-yard line. Vickerson was a teammate of Hasselbeck’s with the Titans and the Seahawks.
  • On the Monday night game, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had to play improvized sandlot football on at least four plays — one leading to an interception (video) — because center Phil Costa allegedly heard the Redskins defense mimicking the snap count. A reel of the errant snaps (video) was posted at; on the third play in the clip package you can hear a “hut, hut”   as Romo was looking to his right, so he clearly wasn’t calling for the ball at that point.

Look for the league to issue a warning memo to all 32 teams regarding disconcerting signals this week.

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Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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2 thoughts on “Non-call du jour: Disconcerting signals?

  1. Listened to the clip, don’t hear the “hut hut” on the third play. I hear Romo calling out a signal (“180” I think?) but no “hut hut” and certainly nothing in the same range / tone as Romo’s call. Admittedly I’m a Redskins fan, but my problem with this accusation is that Costa was apparently the only one on the field who heard it, and he never appeared to complain about it at the time. When Romo was yelling at him, he wasn’t pointing at the Skins. He and Romo didn’t change the signals to adjust. Never saw him run up to the officials to complain. O-linemen generally go on the call, none of them jumped at the same time. Not saying it didn’t happen, my problem is there isn’t a lot of corroborating evidence other than a young center botching some snaps.

  2. I listened again through not-so-crummy speakers … I still can’t make it out but there is something there. Still don’t know which side of the ball it’s coming from. The core contention that I made — that Romo was looking to the side, so he wasn’t calling for a snap — still applies, not necessarily that it was the Redskins. It could be:

    1) disconcerting signals

    2) Costa doesn’t know or remember the snap count

    3) Costa has some condition, such as excessive ear wax, that he is unable to correctly perceive the sound of his quarterback or hear the snap count.

    Crowd noise, obviously, has been ruled out, which is generally the cause of fumbled snaps or snap infractions.

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