Rich Eisen Rebukes USA Today's Encroachment Penalty During "TNF" Timeout

NFL Network’s Rich Eisen gave viewers an impression that field judge Steve Zimmer was giving him the business as he was promoting the upcoming halftime show during Chiefs/Chargers on “Thursday Night Football.” At least one sports media columnist saw through his humor.

If you watched this week’s installment of “Thursday Night Football” between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers, well… lucky you. You certainly have ice water in your heart to watch two less-than-average teams go at it in a primetime game.

You have the Chiefs, who still have not led in regulation during the first half of the season (their lone victory over the Saints came in overtime) and the Chargers, who amid rampant speculation that their head coach and general manager would be fired, nearly failed to sell out this week’s contest, which would have been the first time in NFL Network’s seven-year history of “TNF” that a game was blacked out locally (the game was simulcast on KFMB-TV in San Diego).

But the Friday morning quarterbacking isn’t about a resurgent Philip Rivers (if only for one game) or a dormant offense that makes the Kansas City Chiefs look like the Charlestown Chiefs – it was a sight gag that Rich Eisen made as NFLN returned from commercials at the two-minute warning at the end of the first half.

“It’s a good thing we’re telling you what’s coming [up] on the Lexus halftime show,” Eisen told viewers, then motioning to the referee inches away from him. “This field judge wants me off the field.”

At that point, you could hear “Thursday Night Football” analyst Mike Mayock laughing.

Eisen then teased “the best sounds of the first half of the season and second half of the season predictions” before throwing it back to Brad Nessler in the booth.

On Friday morning, the USA Today Sports Twitter feed published a story about this bit, complete with video embedded from NFL.com, arguing that while Eisen was “twenty yards from the Chargers and Chiefs, both of whom were ready to play and lined up in their formations,” he “earned a quick rebuke from the field judge.”

About an hour later on Twitter, Eisen shot back that game action had yet to be resumed, and that just because he used the side judge as some sort of video prop, he didn’t really get an eyeful, let alone an earful, from him.

“Get a grip,” he tweeted to USA Today. “It was a JOKE. The ref said nothing. The ball couldn’t be put in play. It was a TIMEOUT. Only ‘ire’ is yours.”

You would think with Eisen doing this NFL remote thing for several years, he would appear to have an understanding of the rules of the game.

Or is it the editor of the USAT piece, Chris Chase, who fails to understand a joke, let alone the rules.

I guess there’s only one way to settle this: get Steve Wimmer’s take on all of this.

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