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Pass interference replay reviews are one-and-done, will not return in 2020 without the need for a vote

Replay reviews of pass interference will not see a second season, according to Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay.

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Following a season where pass interference replay reviews were an infamous hot topic, Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay has reported that the one-year proposal will not be renewed for the 2020 season, according to an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio. McKay announced that since neither the Competition Committee nor any team has proposed extending the 2019-only rule change to add pass interference to the list of reviewable plays to the 2020 season, the ability to review pass interference has “died a natural death.”

Coaches, players, and fans alike were able to witness the results of a knee-jerk reaction to an unfortunate no-call, as it became a headache right from the get-go. McKay noted, as we all predicted, that allowing such a subjective call to be reviewed would pose problems, even with the established “clear and obvious” standard. Out of the 102 plays from the 2019 regular season and postseason that were subject to a review of either offensive or defensive pass inteference, only 24 of the calls on the field were changed; a mere 23.5% reversal rate. Only 3 of those 24 reversals picked up thrown flags for pass interference, as the remaining 21 reversals called pass interference when it had not been called on the field. 20 of the 102 reviewed plays, just under 20%, were initiated by the replay booth, and the remaining 80% of reviews were requested through a coach’s challenge. 

McKay, who is also the president and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons, admitted that combining a subjective call with a subjective replay process was set up for widespread disagreement. Replay was designed to correct objective calls, such as the ball breaking the plane of the goal line, or whether a receiver had both of his feet in bounds on a catch. The subjective nature of a judgement call like pass interference would never see consistent success in replay.

Many believed reviewing pass interference would be the key to preventing a no-call like the one we all saw in the 2018 NFC Championship Game. The reality is, it just caused more headaches than it solved, and since the cons outweighed the pros, it was scrapped. In an offseason that no one expected, it seemed no one wanted to tinker with the rule, but rather just repeal it entirely instead by not proposing an extension.

Cam Filipe is a forensic scientist and has been involved in football officiating for 12 years. Cam is in his fourth season as a high school football official. This is his ninth season covering NFL officiating for Football Zebras.

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