Referee knocked down Alex Mack with flag: Not the NFL’s first time

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Dominique Clare

Editor in Chief at Champion Insiders
Dominique is a nationally published sports writer and Minnesota Vikings & Timberwolves sports personality. His work has been published and featured on Fox Sports, Fansided, Huff Post, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, and more. He has appeared as a radio guest on Fox Sports, ESPN, NBC, and The FAN affiliates. He is the Content Director for Midwest Communication Inc. Prior to his professional career, Dominique played division 1 football for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
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During the 2017 NFL season, a referee threw a flag and knocked over Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Alex Mack. 

At first glance, it appears to be a little of a flop but I decided to dig deeper. It was odd to see a flag knock down a big strong lineman. I played football all the way through college and have never been hit with a flag so I do not want to judge Mack. 

First, here is the video of the ref knocking down Alex Mack. Watch #51 at the end of the play.

How hard did the ref throw this flag at this Falcons lineman???? ????More on this here:

Posted by Dominique Clare on Sunday, December 3, 2017

The first 15 times I watched this video I laughed very hard. Then I came across some information about this being a problem in the NFL. A player even lost his sight because of a ref throwing a flag so hard. 

What is a penalty flag made out of?

An NFL penalty flag is yellow 15″ X 15″ Nylon with a weighted center. For weight they now use sand. This leaves each flag weighing roughly 1.6 ounces. For reference that is about the weight of a golf ball. Some refs reportedly filled their flags with BBs in the ’90s and 2000s to throw them easier. Even without BBs, 1.6 ounces is enough to get that flag traveling fast.

The penalty flag was first introduced at a Youngstown St football game in 1941. The NFL adopted the penalty flag in 1948 during a Green Bay Packers game vs the Boston Yanks

Lawsuit over a flag

The player who temporarily lost sight in one eye was Orlando Brown.  He was an offensive tackle for the Cleveland Browns at the time. He filed a $200 million lawsuit against the NFL because of this injury.  The flag that hit Brown flew loaded with BBs.  It hit him with a lot of force.

Here is a video below about the incident.

Brown settled with the NFL for a sum of money estimated between $15 million and 25 million in 2002. He returned to the NFL in 2003 and played three final seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. Sadly he died 9 years after that in his apartment at only age 40. 

Orlando Brown’s son Orland Brown Jr. is currently a rookie for the Baltimore Ravens. He played in every game this season and started in nine of them.

Lets laugh with Alex Mack

Luckily Alex Mack stayed injury free after this play. Because of that, we can all enjoy a good laugh. The NFL might want to make sure that the referees are not putting BBs in their flags again though. 

Outside of this flop, Alex Mack is known as an iron man in the NFL. He is an excellent player. Mack has been to six Pro Bowls during his 10 year NFL career. During that time he played all 16 games eight times. 

I have reached out the NFL referees for comment on this. I have yet to hear a response. 


Here is a funny mashup that shows who potentially threw the flag at Alex Mack. 

Kawhi Leonard laughs at Marcus Peters and Alex Mack

Kawhi Leonard just realized that Marcus Peters threw the flag that knocked out Alex Mack.

Posted by Dominique Clare on Tuesday, December 25, 2018
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