Roughing the passer call against 49ers triggers memory of Drew Brees becoming a giraffe

A questionable flag Sunday against the 49ers brought back memories of a controversial unnecessary roughness call on a 2013 takedown of Drew Brees.

On that play seven years ago, linebacker Ahmad Brooks forced the ball out on a would-be game-winning strip sack but was penalized for hitting Brees in the neck area. Some fans viewed the whistle as too harsh against San Francisco even as replay showed the quarterback’s neck stretching like a giraffe’s against the force of the tackle.

The incident turned Brees into an unfortunate meme that in hindsight was probably insensitive toward the lasting pain it inflicted on the quarterback.

In any case, Sunday’s flag was more egregious than what happened with Brooks, who was eventually fined $15,750 by the NFL. Brees was essentially tackled too hard, according to the referee, leading to a suspect judgment of roughing the passer. The league doesn’t allow defenders to land their full body weight on top of the quarterback, but it appeared Kentavius Street hit the field to the side of Brees.

Here’s a look at the play:

Brees later left the game with what the Saints called a rib injury, though it’s not immediately clear whether the hit by Street contributed. Jameis Winston started the second half in his place. Brees threw five passes following the roughing penalty before being removed.

49ers fans, meanwhile, showed they aren’t over the 2013 call:

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