clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pete Carroll asked Neil deGrasse Tyson to explain why Russell Wilson’s lateral was actually backward

The renowned astrophysicist says it was. But the NFL’s rules still say it wasn’t.

You can’t throw a forward lateral. Those are the rules. But Russell Wilson did throw one in the Seahawks’ Sunday night win over the Eagles, and now Pete Carroll is turning to the ultimate authority to prove that the lateral was, in fact, backward.

He’s bringing astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson into the conversation.

“As a matter of a fact, I have, in fact, already put in my calls to Neil deGrasse Tyson,” Carroll said on his weekly appearance on Seattle’s 710 ESPN radio. “We’re talking physics now. I’m serious. I’m going to get an explanation about why that was a backwards lateral so that everybody understands. Because the ball was traveling at the speed that Russell was traveling.”

And deGrasse Tyson did not disappoint.

The problem for Carroll and deGrasse Tyson is that the NFL’s rulebook doesn’t agree.

Rule 8, Section 1, Article 1 defines a forward pass as follows:

(a) the ball initially moves forward (to a point nearer the opponent’s goal line) after leaving the passer’s hand(s); or

(b) the ball first strikes the ground, a player, an official, or anything else at a point that is nearer the opponent’s goal line than the point at which the ball leaves the passer’s hand(s).

Wilson released that ball around the 47-yard line. Running back Mike Davis grabbed it around the 48-yard line. Davis caught it at a point nearer the goal line than the place it left Wilson’s hands.

So the physics behind this don’t really matter here. That pass traveled 1 yard in a forward direction, and it’s a forward pass in the eyes of the NFL.

It still worked out just fine for the Seahawks. The Eagles didn’t challenge the play, and it resulted in a 17-yard gain for Seattle.

This isn’t the first time that deGrasse Tyson has been pulled in to talk physics and football with the Seahawks.

Honestly, he could be a football analyst.

Carroll said during his weekly press conference on Monday that he hasn’t heard anything back from deGrasse Tyson.

“He hasn’t called me back yet,” Carroll said. “I’m waiting for a call.”

Now that Tyson has weighed in, Carroll’s got to be pleased that physics backs up his case. But this still wasn’t a legal pass.