If you saw highlights or coverage of February 12ths Toronto Rock-Calgary Roughnecks game, you’re probably familiar with this play. With about 1:47 into overtime, the Rock called timeout and set up for an offensive foray. Except before the play could start, referee Mark Gardonio told Colin Doyle he had to get off the floor. Confusion reigned, and the Rock were forced to start play with their captain on the bench.
It turned out that Doyle had been kicked off the floor for wearing unlicensed equipment – specifically, his shoes. All players are mandated by the NLL to wear Reebok shoes as part of the league’s head-to-toe sponsorship deal. The Roughnecks noticed that Doyle wasn’t, and called him on it at a most inopportune time.
Calgary coach Dave Pym seemed proud of himself after the game, although he wondered if the call hadn’t jinxed them a bit.
We took them out of their set play and generated a great scoring opportunity. But for a shaft, we win the game…Somebody might say karma bit us in the butt. But we shut them down on that particular play and gave ourselves a chance to win.
Still, the question remains: how did the Roughnecks know? During the television broadcast, Doyle was incredulous. Listen at 0:17 when he claims all the markings on his shoes were covered up. When Gardonio says “they’re not Reebok,” Doyle replies “how would you know?”
The answer, it turns out, is pretty simple: while Doyle may have covered up all the markings on the top of the shoes, he couldn’t do anything about the soles. Here’s a screengrab from the second quarter, after Doyle had been knocked down in the Calgary crease.
That’s obviously an Under Armour logo on the shoes, a dead giveaway that Doyle’s shoes weren’t compliant. Now, to be fair, we had to freeze the screen to get this image; in real time, one might be able to see some kind of marking, but not necessarily the logo. But with the amount of time Doyle spends on the turf near the goal, it’s not totally surprising someone noticed the soles of his shoes.
What tipped us off, ironically, was a Calgary goal that was waved off when Scott Carnegie fell into the Toronto crease. The final freeze frames showed the bottoms of Carnegie’s feet – and the Reebok logo on the soles of his shoes.
The rule Doyle broke, by the way, was 26.3:
26.3 SPONSORSHIP EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS – Only NLL sponsored equipment shall be worn unless prior approval by the League and only authorized Official NLL Suppliers’ logos/marks may be displayed on the player’s uniform and/or equipment. Any player or goalie not complying with this rule shall not be eligible to play until such time the player or goalie removes non NLL sponsored equipment and/or non authorized logos/marks.
According to the rule, then, Doyle’s complaints wouldn’t have mattered; simply covering up the logos wouldn’t have been enough.
Why was Doyle wearing illegal shoes? During a post-game interview, he said he’d switched because he was having “problems with my feet so I had to go to a different pair of shoes.”
Assuming that’s true, the problems have been affecting Doyle for at least three weeks.
Here are Doyle’s shoes on January 22nd in Buffalo:
and on January 21nd in Toronto.
Which shoes are they, you ask? It’s hard to tell, because of all the coverups, but we’re fairly certain it was these ones – Under Armour’s Micro G Blur Basketball Shoes.
The whole thing turned out to be little more than a sidebar in an otherwise-crazy game. Doyle borrowed a trainer’s shoes, and on the following shift turned the ball over, then stripped it back, to set up the game-winning goal. Ho-hum.
Andrew McKay is a former head scout with the National Lacrosse League’s Chicago Shamrox, and former scout with the Toronto Rock and Peterborough Lakers. Founder of The Lacrosse Journal and The Laxist. Lacrosse writer for Yahoo! Sports. You can contact Andrew on Twitter @apmckay.