Sun, Mar 24, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Review of penalty calls slated when NFL owners meet


Reviewing penalty calls, including pass interference, are to be among proposals NFL owners will hear to expand replay when they meet next week in Phoenix, Arizona.

Greater use of replay has become a scorching topic since the National Football Conference championship game, when a non-call on a blatant pass interference and helmet-to-helmet hit by Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman likely cost the New Orleans Saints a Super Bowl trip.

However, that type of non-call would not be subject to review under the league’s competition committee’s proposal.

The committee is to present one proposal to make reviewable pass interference that has been called, plus looking at all scoring plays and turnovers negated by penalty.

In a second recommendation, pass interference and fouls for roughing the passer and unnecessary contact against a defenseless player would be reviewable as long as they are flagged. Both would be one-year trials.

However, members of the competition committee that reviews the rulebook each year do not sense strong support for a major expansion of replay.

“They are always sharply divided; people have very strong views on replay,” said Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons and cochairman of the competition committee.

For any rule change, three-quarters of NFL teams must vote yes.

“We welcome the discussion and we feel like this is a good way to expand it,” McKay added. “We have data that shows these are the most impactful plays and the ones we can change.”

Several teams also made replay proposals, including one by Kansas City that would address what happened in the Rams-Saints title game.

The Chiefs are proposing potential personal fouls not called on the field be reviewed after a coach’s challenge. Robey-Coleman’s helmet hit would have fallen in that category.

Washington suggested making all plays challengeable by coaches or reviewable by the officiating department in New York. The Redskins also want to add reviews of personal fouls, so those alterations would also apply to the Rams-Saints play.

Philadelphia suggested adding scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul as subject to automatic review, no challenge needed.

The Panthers, Rams, Eagles and Seahawks want to add review of designated player safety-related fouls whether called or not called on the field to what coaches can challenge. This could also be applied to the Robey-Coleman hit.

NFL operations chief Troy Vincent said that the committee met with everyone involved in such calls: players, coaches, officials, team owners and administrators.

“Officials have to live this out in real time,” Vincent said. “This was about working to keep a system in place from a mechanical administration standpoint on game day and the flow [of the game]. The officials felt just expanding the current replay process, what is reviewable, that this is the best start for possible solutions on some of the issues.”

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