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