Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Origin of Football's Penalty Flag

Ever wonder who thought of the penalty flag? Me either, but Youngstown State University has the story for you.
Before the introduction of the penalty flag, the officials used horns and whistles to signal a penalty. This made it difficult for fans and the media to know that there was an infraction on the field because they could not hear the signal.

Beede said, "I always disliked the fish horn signal, figured it was a nuisance, irritating to the ears."

Jack McPhee, who was an official during the first game the penalty flag was used said, "Through the use of the signal flag, everyone in the stadium knows that something is wrong. It’s been a big help."

Beede came up with idea of the flag and had his wife sew it together. His wife, Irma Beede, later became known as the ‘Betsy Ross of Football’ because she sewed the first flags together. He asked her to make a flag that had a bright color (red) with white stripes. The flags were put together using pieces of the Beede’s daughter’s old Halloween costume for the red part of the flag and an old sheet for the white part. She used some lead sinkers from Beede’s fishing tackle box to weigh it down. It was 16 inches square with the weight all at one end of the flag. The flag has been modified over the years and today it is yellow cloth that has sand in it to weigh it down.

Beede came to an agreement with Oklahoma City Coach Os Doenges to use the flags as an experiment. Beede proceeded to ask the game officials to use the flag.

"Do me a favor boys, instead of using the horns, try dropping these flags on violations. The fans never hear the horns. Besides its just an experiment."

When you go to a Super Bowl party or a bar for the NFC/AFC Championship games, drop that one on your buddies to show them your Cliff Claven-esque knowledge of the game.


Anonymous said...

what year did this happen as to throwing the flag ?

Jib said...