New England Patriots

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots argues with the referee during the third quarter of a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff,

The NFL has tried to crack down on offensive holding to start the 2019 season, but they’ve quickly reversed course. And it definitely has nothing to do with the fateful tweets of the league’s greatest all-time player.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert reported on Monday morning a steep drop-off in offensive holding penalties during Sunday’s action. In the first 33 games of the season, 188 flags hit the field for offensive holding, an average of 5.7 per game. On Sunday, 41 flags flew in 14 games – a per-game rate of just 2.9.

NFL head of officiating Al Riveron reportedly held a conference call with officials before Sunday, instructing them to allow offensive blockers more time to position their hands inside a defender, rather than throw the flag as soon as they see them wrap their arms outside, a technique Seifert describes as a “lobster block”.

The call came after the Titans-Jaguars game on Thursday night, which featured a whopping 19 penalties – 10 for offensive holding alone. The game prompted a pair of completely coincidental tweets from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who apparently could not bear to watch the game anymore with all the flags flying around.

Officials threw four flags for offensive holding on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, three against the Jets – two of which were on the same play.

I don’t think there’s any question here that Brady’s tweets had absolutely nothing to do with Riveron deciding to hold a conference call with officials. Plenty of fans already tweet about the same issues. Why should they care what the greatest player of all time and one of the most high-profile figures in sports has to say?

Expect the flags to stay low, if not drop off more. You can thank Riveron and the fans for that. Definitely not Tom Brady.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at