Report: Majority of NFL teams don't want to keep pass interference review rules

Jack Baer
·Writer
·3 min read

The NFL finished its first season of reviewable pass interference penalties. Judging from an offseason survey of teams, there might not be a second.

A significant majority of NFL teams are opposed to renewing the pass interference review rules passed last offseason on a one-year basis, according to a survey obtained by The Washington Post’s Mark Maske. If enough teams don’t change their opinion, it could mean the end of a rule that saw a messy implementation last season.

Just how many NFL teams want the PI reviews to end?

The exact numbers, from the Post:

Of the 29 teams to respond to a question about whether they would be in favor of making the rule permanent, 21 said no and eight said yes. Three teams did not respond.

Of the 22 teams to respond to a question about whether they would be in favor of extending the rule for one more year, 17 said no.

Considering the PI review rules were passed last season with a 31-1 majority — the lone holdout being the Cincinnati Bengals — that is quite a reversal, but more than understandable.

Botched calls on pass interference reviews were an almost weekly event during the season, to the irritation of fans and some players. The NFL’s head of officiating, Al Riveron, was clearly reluctant to overrule his referees on the field, and that led to several instances of clear pass interference being ruled clean after a review from New York.

Now, we see the end result of that: At least 20 teams going from ratifying the rule to being against its existence in the span of a year. NFL competition committee chair Rich McKay had already acknowledged "angst" around the rule at the end of last season.

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) argues a call with side judge Anthony Jeffries, during the first half at an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Allen's touchdown was nullified due to offensive pass interference, (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Players, coaches and fans lambasted the NFL's pass interference review rules at different times last season. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

“Obviously, it was a one-year rule,” said Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy, according to the Post. “I’d say overall the results were not great. I think it really is putting, especially the New York office in a really difficult position.”

The results of the survey aren’t an official vote, but they do show how little support there is for the rule to continue in its current form.

When will the NFL decide on the PI review rules?

Per Maske, the NFL’s owners are likely to vote on renewing the pass interference review rules next month at the annual league meeting in Palm Beach, Fla.

At least 24 of the 32 owners will have to vote in favor of the rule for it to stay in place, which seems unlikely.

However, more reported results from the survey could indicate possible changes to the rule to make it more palatable. Two teams reportedly said the league should add another on-field official or “sky judge,” while another two said penalty reviews should be focused on personal fouls rather than pass interference.

One team said the system should only apply to the most egregious of penalties, though good luck finding a way to create a consistent criteria for that. And one said pass interference should only be reviewable in the final two minutes of the game, basically to stop a repeat of the play that created this rule while not having to deal with the larger consequence.

Or maybe the owners will just vote to move on from a rule that created more bad moments than good moments in its potentially single year of existence.

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