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Future clouded for pass interference replay rule

49ers called for pass interference (Kansas City Chiefs)

Don’t expect the pass interference (PI) replay rule to survive as is for the 2020 season. And, it remains unclear if any sort of PI replay will be on the books this fall.

ESPN reports that members of the NFL Competition Committee “remain skeptical” about the one-year experimental rule.  

Last year, aggrieved coaches strong-armed the PI replay rule onto the books. The result was a clunky, frustrating rule that didn’t work as the authors envisioned.

While the Competition Committee isn’t pleased with the PI replay results, the committee isn’t ready to entirely scrap the rule. The committee is open to modifying the rule for the 2020 season.

But, the problem remains — how can instant replay turn a judgement call into black and white call? The answer is simple — it is impossible.  

I think that most teams will want some type PI instant replay rule on the books to correct obvious errors; but there will never be a rule that will make pass interference a 100% objective call.


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Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

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One thought on “Future clouded for pass interference replay rule

  1. The difference is fact and opinion. Facts use objective evidence to create truth. Opinions formulate subjective ideas to create beliefs.
    Did he contact the receiver? (Fact)
    Did he impede the receiver? (Opinion)
    Did he interference with the receiver’s ability to catch the ball? (Opinion)

    The crew chief should be able to identify the uncertain or doubtful opinion of his crew and announce no penalty. Replay Review should follow the same guidelines unless there are more facts that are revealed that tell a different story.

    FIFA has introduced VAR for certain situations, mostly dealing with facts (Offside, foul location, wrong player booked), but also some opinions (handling, obvious fouls). But VAR doesn’t make the final call, they only convey the facts to the referee, who makes the final decision. Perhaps removing centralized replay and going back to local is on the table, because it seems like the leaders inside the Art McNally GameDay Central room can’t keep a consistent application of opinion.

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