NFL: We got the pass interference rule "totally wrong"

A few weeks ago, I looked at the NFL’s decision to dump their new pass interference review rule after only a single season. To say that this was a shortsighted decision is to put it very mildly indeed. The league has been getting an earful about this from all sides ever since, and now the NFL’s Vice President of football operations, Troy Vincent is admitting that they got things “miserably wrong” when it came to the new rule. Sadly, Vincent isn’t admitting that they were wrong to scrap the rule so quickly. Quite the opposite, in fact. He’s saying that they never should have put the rule into effect to begin with. (NY Post)

The NFL eventually paid the price with plenty of confusion, controversy and frustration regarding its implementation and effectiveness.

“Those outcomes were not good for professional football,” Vincent said. “Because we didn’t do the proper due diligence, it played out publicly. The last thing people should be talking about is the way the game is officiated. They [officials] should be faceless objects, managing and facilitating game flow.

The idea to review pass interference was in response to the blown non-call against the Saints game that likely cost them a chance to reach the Super Bowl.

As I explained in the previous article, the NFL didn’t screw up by “rushing” to put a new rule in place. That rule had been needed for a very long time. Pass interference calls are routinely blown in both directions. Non-calls follow some of the most blatant examples of the offense and flags are tossed when nothing close to legitimate interference was taking place.

All the league is doing here is reversing course and going back to that sad state of affairs. There’s an interesting quote in the linked article from Vincent where he says, “The last thing people should be talking about is the way the game is officiated. They [officials] should be faceless objects, managing and facilitating game flow.”

Yes, in some imaginary world where that would somehow be possible, it would be lovely Mr. Vincent. But that’s not how the zebras roll on far too many occasions. And because of the massive penalties that can be incurred as a result of pass interference on big-gain plays, it’s still important that you find a way to get it right as often as possible. There’s nothing stopping the league from doing what the XFL did and putting a replay official up in the booth wearing a mic so everyone can hear them. Every penalty (and every play, for that matter) can be reviewed and the fans can follow the process as it plays out.

That led to far fewer disputed penalty calls in the XFL than you normally see in the NFL. There’s simply no reason not to adopt something similar if not identical. And you could still get it done in time for this season if you really wanted to.

I realize that everyone is still upset over the non-call at the end of the NFC Championship game between the Saints and the Rams last year. It was a debacle. But that disaster happened under the old rules where there was no option for a review. The same rules that you are now returning to. Imagine how that game could have ended with a couple of minutes being made available for the officials to look it over. The whole thing is a hot mess and the league isn’t doing themselves any favors with this response.

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David Strom 9:21 PM on March 24, 2023