“Common Sense” was the term Thomas Paine used close to 250 years ago – and frankly, that’s still something the NFL sometimes seems to have a hard time using.
The latest head-scratcher comes with the apparent abandoning of pass interference review after just one season.
Let’s back things up: This all began with a blatant pass interference that wasn’t called in the NFC Championship Game two years ago between the Saints and the Rams. It was such an egregious mistake – one that basically prevented a team from going to the Super Bowl - that 31 teams voted in favor of a one-year experiment, allowing teams to challenge pass interference calls – or non-calls – and have them reviewed.
It was, in my opinion, absolutely the right move. The rule itself was necessary. The problem is: The enforcement of the rule this season was a complete and utter failure.
Almost every week, there was a controversy about a blatant pass interference that wasn’t called on the field and then STILL wasn’t called after review. Less than a quarter of reviewed plays were reversed. But more than the actual numbers was the inconsistency. It led coaches like Bill O’Brien to admit, quote, “I don’t even know what pass interference is anymore.”
So when teams were asked about making the one-year experiment permanent, according to the NFL Network, 21 teams said no. Which means one year after a rule was almost unanimously supported, about two-thirds of teams don’t want it back.
In my view, that’s not a reflection of the rule – but the complete failure by those in charge of implementing the rule itself. In fact, it’s not even a topic on a list of rule proposals that clubs will vote on at the upcoming league meetings. Which to me, is a complete mistake. If there’s absolutely no oversight or possibility of reviewing a blatant pass interference like the one that spurred this discussion to begin with, then it’s just going to happen again.
Two years ago, the NFL finally used some common sense by simplifying its Catch Rule. It’s not perfect, but it’s arguably much better. If it looks like a catch and smells like a catch, for the most part, it’s going to be a catch.
That’s what needs to happen here. Rather than just casting aside a rule that wasn’t enforced well enough in its first season, the oversight of the rule needs to be revised. I understand that judgement calls are tough to make. But if replay shows interference, call interference. Don’t just go with the original call to side with the officials on the field. It’s doing a disservice to every fan watching at home.
In other words, just use more common sense. Which also includes not throwing this one-year experiment into the trash without any discussion about how it could be improved in the future.