By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Upon further review … the NFL failed so miserably at enacting a process to review pass interference penalties that the league is punting it after just one season.
That appears to be the plan, anyway, as NFL Network’s Judy Battista reported this week that “pass interference replay almost certainly will not be extended.”
UPDATE, MAY 7: Pass interference review is officially dead.
In eliminating a rule that was put into place after the embarrassing debacle in New Orleans during the 2018 NFC Championship Game, the league is admitting that it failed to create and implement a functional system to help prevent such obvious miscalls from changing games.
And the move ought to kick up some dirt on the theory that the league implemented a new plan to appease Sean Payton and the entire city of New Orleans, while doing so with a system that was destined to fail. Given just how atrocious the implementation of this review process was, it would frankly be a compliment to the NFL to suggest that it was designed poorly on purpose. To suggest otherwise leaves one’s only conclusion to be that the league is incompetent.
The cases of obvious missed calls remaining uncalled after challenges were numerous. It got to the point where most football observers came to surmise that the actual play that led to the creation of the new system wouldn’t have even been reversed had the challenge/replay system been in place in 2018.
This play, for example, was challenged for pass interference, because the defender clearly interfered with the receiver.
Alas, the non-call on the field was upheld. Why? Because. That was why.
As far as other examples of complete and utter failure go, well …
Meanwhile, DeAndre Hopkins misses a TD reception due to pass interference
I mean … the officials didn’t call it
They did review it … and STILL did not call it 🤦🏻♂️ pic.twitter.com/cGDFpV3jfk
— T̷R̷O̷Y̷ ̷H̷U̷G̷H̷E̷S̷ (@TommySledge) November 17, 2019
First pic: illegal hands to the “face” penalty to keep a drive alive after a third down sack.
Second pic: not pass interference.
Hey but they’re trying their best out there. pic.twitter.com/Iecs6SzGXr
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) October 15, 2019
One trick the NFL liked to pull when upholding missed calls was by simply stating “facts” that weren’t true and using the worst possible camera angle to prove its point. Like this one:
“In #PHIvsGB, Green Bay challenged for pass interference. After review, there was no clear and obvious evidence that Philadelphia #29 significantly hindered the opponent.” – AL pic.twitter.com/Loc0LJp90q
— NFL Officiating (@NFLOfficiating) September 27, 2019
Thank you for that replay, Al Riveron. Now we know. Oh, but wait, we’ve got multiple cameras at these games now, and those angles show that the defensive back popped the receiver in the chin before the ball arrived. One might say he interfered with his ability to catch the pass!
THIS ISN'T PASS INTERFERENCE?!?!?!??! pic.twitter.com/69aIuubQzW
— Nathan Marzion (@nathanmarzion) September 27, 2019
I hope @MrMikeCoates doesn't mind me sharing the photos he put together here, but they're so perfect. Top is the example they showed for what should be enforced. Bottom is one that … wasn't enforced on review. pic.twitter.com/F4xyhZJPcZ
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) October 11, 2019
Alas, “After review, there was no clear and obvious evidence that Philadelphia #29 significantly hindered the opponent.” Harrumph.
Another time, T.Y. Hilton was called for offensive pass interference, despite not committing pass interference.
Frank Reich challenged. Riveron upheld the call on the field. Why? Shut up. That’s why.
Oh, and don’t forget this one. The Bucs challenged because Michael Thomas clearly pushed off. Alas, Riveron said he didn’t.
— NFL (@NFL) October 6, 2019
Not OPI…. Really? pic.twitter.com/gADB6JCPPx
— Nathan (@nwandler) October 6, 2019
We could do this all day, but what’s the point? The NFL never really set out to get it right with pass interference, and the 2019 was affected by that ill-conceived plan of action every single weekend.
The system was a farce. It was either never designed to succeed, or Riveron is incompetent. Choose your own adventure on that one.
But for now, with the entire world worried about literally everything else except pass interference review, the league will happily flush away the review/challenge system without anybody really even noticing. It’s the silent policy death that NFL dreams are made of.