Written by Dr Jim Tunney on June 3, 2019
On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS June 3, 2019, #746 Tweaking PI?
After further review… As a result of a missed defensive pass interference foul by the on-field game officials in the game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints, the NFL owners gave the Competition Committee the authority to “allow pass interference calls (or non-calls) to be challenged by coaches and reviewed via replay on a one-year experiment.” At this writing, the 2019 rule would not include the last two minutes, since in that time-period all decisions are the responsibility of the replay-booth official. From the perspective of a former 31-year on-field NFL game official, this is taking video replay beyond the game itself.
The non-call in the aforementioned National Football Conference championship game definitely put the offended T*E*A*M at a disadvantage. Some say it even cost the Saints a chance to play as the NFC champion in Super Bowl LIII. So, how does the NFL fix the non-call situation? There may be options, many of which will not get the approval of all concerned.
The NFL established guidelines in 1999 to permit NFL head coaches to challenge certain plays on the field. For example, whether a fumble occurred (or not) prior to a runner being down-by-contact, etc. In chapter 15, there are 28 pages of replay guidelines in the 2019 rule book. Over the years, the committee wisely has avoided judgment calls, e.g., holding, intentional grounding, etc. However, the committee now is going against what it always believed: “that judgment calls can be interpreted differently.” The committee is taking that decision out of the hands of the on-field game officials and putting it under the direction of an official in the booth, who will then make the decision after looking at the replay – perhaps over and over.
When the league abandons the trust of its game officials, it has entered into the realm of a video game e.g., Madden’20! Trust is a part of any live-action sport. Officials must trust players and coaches to play by the rules. When those are violated, the officials must step in to keep the playing field level. The reciprocal is paramount in any successful relationship.
Being on the NFL field for 31 years trust has been the essence of my tenure. When a coach disagreed with a call, he trusted that the official was doing the best he could without prejudice. When that trust is lost, it changes the game.
Will you log-in your thoughts of the NFL change in its rules?
To contact Jim, go to JimTunney.com or email Jim@JimTunney.com.