NFL Competition Committee to Discuss Renewing Pass Interference Replay Rule

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2020

FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2019, file photo, Los Angeles Rams' Nickell Robey-Coleman breaks up a pass intended for New Orleans Saints' Tommylee Lewis during the second half of the NFL football NFC championship game in New Orleans. From the moment two officials watched a Los Angeles Rams defender slam into a New Orleans receiver well before the ball arrived and failed to throw a flag for pass interference that was obvious to tens of millions of fans watching at home, officiating and replay became a constant theme in 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

The NFL's experiment allowing pass interference calls and no-calls to be reviewable by instant replay may last just one season.  

Mark Maske of the Washington Post reported the NFL's competition committee watched every play from the season in which a review was used and is discussing whether it will recommend to the owners that the rule be renewed for 2020.

"I want to wait," Atlanta Falcons president and committee chairman Rich McKay said. "I want to hear everybody out. I am one that votes in the best interests of the game. I think we all saw the frustration that we all had during the year. And I do think it began to get better. But I want to see it all and the total picture and not deal from emotion."

It is difficult to argue emotion didn't play a role in implementing the system for the 2019 campaign since the NFC Championship Game from the previous season made so many headlines.

Officials missed an obvious pass interference call on the Los Angeles Rams that would have put the New Orleans Saints in clear position to win, and the Rams eventually prevailed and reached the Super Bowl. That largely spearheaded discussions that led to the review system in place for 2019.

McKay opened up on the topic even more, pointing to the need to further discuss it:

"You have a subjective standard … and you're applying it to a subjective play. So there's going to be disagreement. So you have to decide from a cost-benefit analysis standpoint: Is this worth it? Are we getting enough bang for our buck as far as the game goes? And that's one that the clubs have to answer that question. But I think we should do it and [make] our recommendation after we've looked at everything, walked away from it, looked at it one more time and had a lot of discussion about it. I don't think we should just do it in a knee-jerk first day of watching 111 plays."

Ty Schalter of FiveThirtyEight noted a mere 24 of 101 replay reviews involving pass interference were actually overturned during the regular season. What's more, three of the 27 reviews created an overturn when pass interference was actually called on the field.

The lack of overturned calls led to plenty of controversy and discussion throughout the campaign.

Schalter's column was titled "Has The NFL's Instant Replay Run Its Course?" which echoed similar thoughts from other commentators, such as a column from Danny Heifetz of The Ringer in November titled "The NFL's New Pass Interference Rule Fixed Nothing and Broke Everything."

It was a topic on social media and in postgame press conferences seemingly every Sunday and led to plenty of frustration from fans, coaches and players.

That may not be the case in 2020.


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