When Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said Sunday he didn't know an NFL game could end in a tie, it probably got a lot of players around the NFL running to their rulebooks.
“I guarantee you,” Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme said Wednesday, “there's some people who (also) didn't know.”
McNabb's proclamation after the Eagles' tie with the Cincinnati Bengals is the league's controversy of the week. Panthers players and coaches weighed in on it Wednesday.
“I was taught never to assume anything,” coach John Fox said when asked if he thought his players knew all the NFL's pertinent rules. “There are some types of league by-laws and stuff, that aren't in the best interest of the players (knowing them). But they need to understand the rules.”
Offensive tackle Jordan Gross sympathized with McNabb, but did say he knew games can end in a tie.
“I always figured that would be a bad day,” he said. “You don't want to lose, but a tie would seem like a waste of time.”
Still, all the rules can be confusing, Gross said.
“When Kinger (tight end Jeff King) scored (against the Detroit Lions on Sunday), he handed me the ball and told me to spike it,” said Gross. “I didn't do it because I didn't know if it would be a penalty for excessive celebration or whatever.”
For the record, spiking the ball is allowed after a touchdown in the NFL.
Even Matt Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons' rookie quarterback who spoke with Charlotte reporters on a conference call on Wednesday, said he's been confused by some rules. He said he argued with a referee during a preseason game when an offensive lineman was penalized for being illegally downfield on a screen pass.
In college, that's legal and Ryan didn't know the difference.
Said Delhomme: “I promise you Donovan didn't say, let's play this until the second overtime. I think he's getting a lot of flack over this. Some guys would be too proud to admit that. Hey, we (quarterbacks) have got to protect our own.”
Gross suffered a concussion the first time the Panthers and Falcons played this season and missed one game. He was kneed in the side of the head by Falcons linebacker Michael Boley after he tripped.
Linebacker Thomas Davis was held out of practice Wednesday, but center Ryan Kalil returned on a limited basis and defensive tackle Darwin Walker returned to full participation.
Walker has been sidelined recently with neck pains related to a recent auto accident. Kalil has missed four of the past five games with a sprained ankle, and didn't practice at all last week.
Davis is nursing a sore ankle, but appears likely to play Sunday at Atlanta.