When is a punch not a punch? Apparently, after the NFL takes a look upon further review.
Thursday Night Football viewers were confused as to why 49ers offensive lineman Trent Williams wasn’t ejected from Week 3’s matchup vs. the Giants after replays showed him punching New York’s A'Shawn Robinson in the face (or face mask, to be exact). Williams and Robinson instead drew offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Following San Francisco’s 30–12 victory, NFL senior vice president of officiating Walt Anderson talked to a pool reporter to comment on the incident and said Williams’s actions didn’t meet the level required for disqualification.
“We ended up looking at the video we had available to us, and we just didn’t see anything that rose to the level of flagrant,” Anderson said, per ESPN’s Nick Wagoner. “Which is the standard that we have to apply to disqualify the player.”
Anderson added that officials look at whether a player used a closed fist determines how flagrant a punch is, as opposed to an open-hand slap or stiff-arm shove to the face. With fingers bent to form an apparent fist, it certainly appeared that Williams punched Robinson in the face mask, but officials deemed the video evidence inconclusive.
According to NFL rules, throwing a punch “will result in disqualification.” After years of uncertainty over the process of completing a catch, will there now be debates on what factors go into completing a punch?