There are replay decisions that cost a team dearly, but those usually only focus on the field. Not this time, with Ed Hochuli’s decision to overturn an 80-yard touchdown run by Packers running back Ryan Grant during Sunday’s victory over the Lions costing Grant a total of $1.35 million, keeping him from hitting two big contract incentives: one escalator for breaking 1,250 yards on the season and another for finishing as one of the league’s top-five rushers.
According to MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL, Hochuli’s overturning was the correct call, and we’re not qualified to debate that. What we are qualified to say is that A) Grant shouldn’t have been led to think he had a shot at a touchdown in the first place, and B) The league may have more explaining to do about whether an official actually told him he wasn’t down and that he should keep running.
To Grant’s credit, he responded to missing the incentives with utter class and perspective.
“Yeah, that’s the way the ball bounces,” Grant said. “I told (running backs coach Edgar Bennett), ‘If we were playing in your day, that’s a touchdown. No replay.’”
Now? There’s replay and a big bite in the wallet for Grant.
As for the tip-off from an official, someone needs to track down which zebra-striped honcho put his arms up in the end zone when Grant hit paydirt; he’s the one who may have been pulling for the Packers back.
“I’ve been playing football a long time, I run to the whistle,” Grant said. “I saw the ref running with me, saying ‘Grant, you weren’t down, keep running.’ When I got to the end zone he said, ‘Good job, you weren’t down.’ I was like, ‘There you go.’
“He was running by the sideline, I wasn’t talking to him. He’s like, ‘No, no keep running.’ … First time a ref ever said anything to me.”
The NFL hasn’t commented yet on whether Grant was contacted by an official on the play or whether such contact would be legal if he were. Still, if he were, that would be one of the more striking developments in recent years.
(Peterson: No problem hitting incentives.)
Regardless, neither decision about player-official contact can help Grant, who is out some big bucks. That’s not the case for Adrian Peterson, the Vikings runner who could hit a kicker of a mere $250,000 if he’s named the league’s MVP. Even if he misses that, he’s already run for so many yards that he’s triggered back-end clauses in his deal that will push it’s value to a full $40.5 million, some $11.5 million more than it was worth when he originally inked it after being drafted out of Oklahoma.