NEW YORK (AP) — When Dolphins rookie Reshad Jones stayed out of bounds too long on a Miami punt against the New York Jets, he never could have known he was setting up an NFL scandal.
If not for Jones’ unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the CBS cameras might not have caught what happened on the next Dolphins punt: a Jets coach tripping a Miami player along the sideline. Sal Alosi might still be working for New York, and his colleagues wouldn’t be facing accusations they encourage dirty play.
It all started with a conversation between CBS analyst Dan Fouts and director Suzanne Smith during the third quarter of their coverage of the Dec. 12 game at New Meadowlands Stadium, producer Bob Mansbach recalled Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press.
After Jones was penalized for not immediately returning to the field upon being pushed out, they decided to focus a camera on the sideline for the following punt.
Several minutes later, Dolphins rookie defensive back Nolan Carroll fell to the turf in pain while covering the kick. Mansbach looked at the replay, assuming he’d see Carroll pull up with a bad hamstring or collide with an opposing player.
Instead, to his surprise, Carroll appeared to be tripped by a member of the Jets. Not entirely sure what he had seen, Mansbach said through Fouts’ earpiece, “I think he may have been tripped.”
CBS showed the replay multiple times, emphasized by Fouts’ commentary, blowing up the image of what clearly appeared to be Alosi’s knee stuck out to topple Carroll.
That led to reporters asking the teams about the incident after the game. Within hours, Alosi, the Jets’ strength and conditioning coach, had admitted in a statement to tripping the player.
The next day, Alosi was suspended by the team without pay for the rest of the season and fined $25,000. When it came out two days later that Alosi had told five inactive players to form a wall on the sideline during the punt, he was suspended indefinitely. And coach Rex Ryan and other staffers were bombarded with questions about whether they knew about the ploy.
But when Mansbach and Fouts were driving back to New York City that night after the game, they wouldn’t have predicted all that. The tripping replay was just one of many moments in the frenzy of broadcasting the NFL.
“We didn’t think it was that big a deal,” Mansbach said. “It just caught fire.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.