The NFL tweeted out a clip of Hard Knocks that would otherwise pass unremarked, except for the comment attached to said tweet.

“A great example from Hard Knocks of how we work together to get everyone on the same page re: points of emphasis and rule changes during fall camp,” said NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent. He continued: “All part of our process to inform players and coaches to bring clarity to rules and an opportunity for all to ask questions.”

Now let’s watch the clip.

As you saw, Ed Hochuli says Mike Evans’s reverse tomahawk jam over the crossbar is a clear violation. But the video continues, as Gerald McCoy gyrates in front of Hochuli in an attempt to locate the precise location of The Line.

“That starts to get into a gray area,” Hochuli says. “Some guys are more hard line on that.”

The McCoy-Hochuli exchange is a silly example of a serious point: there is no line. It changes from ref to ref, and every ref’s line changes given the context of the play at hand. And if there’s no standard line when it comes to what exactly is an excessive celebration, there’s no line on holding, or pass interference, or what is a catch and what isn’t. (Dez caught it, by the way.)

Even the NFL VP of football operations’s example of The Line separating black and white is full of gray upon closer examination. And in football, it’s in those gray pixels where games are won and lost.


National columnist - Zach joined the staff in 2012...and has been attempting to improve Doug and Scott's writing ability ever since (to little avail). Outside of football season, you can find him watching the San Antonio Spurs reading Game of Thrones fan theories.