The NFL Competition Committee unanimously approved and officially finalized the new review rule for instant replay on pass interference for the upcoming 2019 season, only. By recommending the rule, booth reviews will occur inside two minutes and Coaches Challenges outside of two minutes, according to the league. This final ruling came one week after teams had the opportunity to give the Competition Committee feedback before the final vote occurred. The Sports Techie community blog is an advocate for using instant replay technologies to assist officials with getting calls right in all sport. We have seen it used successfully in the NFL, NBA and NHL, as well as MLB and during the FIFA World Cup with both VAR and GLT. It is here to stay but of course like any technology, it will need constant tweaking. The NFL’s Football Operations department and Al Riveron, Senior Vice President of Officiating of the National Football League are in charge of making sure this rule tweak is enforced throughout the season via the use of centralized replay in New York City. Not so sure these decisions made by Riveron is a good idea but its only for this next season and PI can be modified for the 2020 season.
The Saints and Rams No-Call Almost Didn’t Matter
When the New Orleans Saints were robbed of their Super Bowl LIII appearance here in Atlanta by a horrendous, no-call near the end of the NFC Championship game watched by millions of fans worldwide, the NFL was in a pickle because of archaic rules that do not allow refs were to view replays for penalties not called on the field. The LA Rams went on to win and the Saints went home for the off-season knowing full well they were losers because of a rule made by a human committee of tech dinosaurs.
The NFL owners met in the off-season during March and heard a proposal from the Competition Committee that would require a coach’s challenge rather than a league required review in the last two minutes. It takes 24 of 32 owners to approach a rule change. Instead, at the Spring Meeting, NFL owners gave the Competition Committee leeway to fix the new pass interference replay review as they saw fit.
The committee did not want to review calls that were not made on the field meaning the Saints blown call of the century would not have been reviewable if they had it their way. After hearing from Saints Head Coach Sean Payton and Dallas Cowboys HC Jason Garrett the committee’s thought process changed to allow for review despite what the stone age group originally recommended.
The Steelers made it known they did not want the game to take more time to complete with additional replays and also effect the pace of play with unnecessary stoppages. They also didn’t like the probability that more human interpretation from replay official made the process ripe with more possibilities of controversy.
I personally feel too much is on the line in terms of wins, losses, jobs and even wagers, to not take the small amount of time it takes to use advanced technology to see if a call needs possible correction, especially during the last two minutes. Teams only play one game a week for Pete’s sake. It is the NFL’s job to make sure booth officials are competent which is not easy as on-field officials blow so many calls it is a joke for the Steelers and like-minded teams to hang on the notion that booth officials can’t review video consistently enough to implement the new rule.
New Replay Rule
The final rule states – Pass interference reviews after the two-minute warning of each half and during overtime will be initiated by the replay official. Hallelujah!
It goes on to say – Replay official will only stop the game when there is “clear and obvious visual evidence” that a pass interference penalty may or may not have occurred. I call this the ‘Saints Factor’ something the competition committee failed to acknowledge with their initial recommendation to fellow owners.
To appease the tech-phobic Steelers and their delusional allies the NFL decided – In an effort to limit excessive stoppages, any stoppage will occur under stricter criteria than other reviewable plays. Calls will only be reversed based on “clear and obvious visual evidence” that an incorrect call was made, which is the same standard for all reviews.
Or, in other words, booth officials cannot interpret calls and make changes because they are experience refs too, rather they should only correct calls everyone and their Mother can see on TV replays. Might as well be a robot in the booth.
Thanks to the 32 coaches who for the first time in NFL history agreed on an issue forcing the committees hand – Even under two minutes, all passing plays can be reviewed for pass interference.
Finally – Any “Hail Mary” play at the end of a half or game will be reviewed in replay consistent with the guidelines for officiating the play on the field. This part of the rule may end up nipping the NFL in the rear as a rule is a rule. If a rule is broken on a Hail Mary pass attempt no matter how minuscule, it deserves to be called. What the NFL is saying is it is OK to tug on a jersey, hit a players hand just a tad early, or push a receiver or a defender ever so slightly because if the refs on the field miss it, it is not to be reviewed and changed. No way, Jose, is that going to work when millions of fans see otherwise at the end of a game.
Sports Techie, during the Spring, coaches provided feedback, the NFL visited the teams, and they conducted webinars in June to do their proper due diligence. The rule will be worked out during the preseason.
I am not sure why the new rule is in place for one season only. Seems like a cop-out by the Competition Committee. If they had it their way, the Saints play could have happened again, and again, and again, with no recourse.
NFL pass interference instant replay is here to stay. The Competition Committee members need to be changed.
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