Source: NFL to again discuss reviewing PI calls
METAIRIE, La. — The NFL will discuss this offseason whether to make pass-interference penalties reviewable, a source confirmed in the wake of the infamous no-call that helped decide Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.
However, that has already been a big topic of discussion for the past several years within the NFL’s competition committee — with coaches such as the New Orleans Saints‘ Sean Payton and the New England Patriots‘ Bill Belichick among many longtime advocates for expanded replay.
So far, there hasn’t been much support for the idea of making “judgment calls” reviewable. But perhaps sentiment could change after the outcry that followed the officials missing a blatant case of pass interference by Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman against Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis in the final minutes of regulation.
After the game, Payton revealed that the NFL’s head of officials, Alberto Riveron, called to tell him that the officiating crew “blew” the call.
The Washington Post was the first to report, via a source, that such a rule change will be “discussed at length along with additional fouls that coaches feel should be subject to review.”
Saints owner Gayle Benson said in a statement that she has been in contact with the NFL over the no-call.
“No team should ever be denied the opportunity to reach the title game (or simply win a game) based on the actions, or inactions, of those charged with creating a fair and equitable playing field. As is clear to all who watched the game, it is undeniable that our team and fans were unfairly deprived of that opportunity yesterday,” she said in a statement. “I have been in touch with the NFL regarding yesterday’s events and will aggressively pursue changes in NFL policies to ensure no team and fan base is ever put in a similar position again. It is a disservice to our coaches, players, employees and, most importantly, the fans who make our game possible. The NFL must always commit to providing the most basic of expectations — fairness and integrity.”
Neither Payton nor the NFL added any further comment Monday — with the league essentially deferring to Riveron’s comments to Payton as an admission of the mistake.
But Payton, who happens to be a member of the NFL’s competition committee, suggested Sunday night that he hopes his team’s misfortune might lead to a rule change.
“We go into these league meetings and we sit as an ownership group and we don’t further evaluate the replay system,” Payton said. “We’ve got plenty of technology to speed things up. Look, I’m on the competition committee, so hopefully that provides a voice. But, man, I hope no other team has to lose a game the way we lost that one today.”
In other developments, the game officials were moved to a different hotel in New Orleans on Sunday night after the game, a source confirmed to ESPN after it was first reported by the Toronto Sun, saying there was no threat and there were no issues, it was just done out of an abundance of caution.
Saints players remained a bit dazed and distraught Monday afternoon, with several of them discussing an obscure NFL rule that started making its rounds on social media Sunday night.
According to Rule 17, Section 2, Article 1, which deals with “Extraordinarily Unfair Acts,” the NFL commissioner has the “sole authority to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective measures if any club action, non-participant interference, or calamity occurs in an NFL game which the Commissioner deems so extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game.”
Although the rule is not intended to overturn officiating calls, Saints receiver Michael Thomas latched onto it with a pair of tweets:
Rule 17 Section 2 Article 3 @NFL 💔⚜️
— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) January 21, 2019
Hey Roger pick up the phone.
— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) January 21, 2019
And when approached in the locker room Monday, Thomas said, “Tell Roger Goodell to pick up the phone.” Across the room, a handful of Saints players was discussing the validity of the rule among themselves, including left tackle Terron Armstead, who said, “I mean, it’s just that bad. It’s that bad.”
“I didn’t know much about the rule, but I read it — and it’s in place,” Armstead said. “I mean I think our case would be the case to make the rule come to life.”
Armstead also admitted that he was still overcome with emotion a day later.
“I’m trying to stop crying, for real. Like a baby,” Armstead said. “Just thinking about everything in totality, just being so close to actually going to the Super Bowl. From somebody like me from a small town in Illinois, a small school, and I’m about to go to a Super Bowl? Man, that s— is tough. It’s like heartbreaking.
“We battled. We’re all sore, hurting. And it was all for nothing. That s— sucks. Most blatant call you’ll ever see. It changes lives. We’re not asking for a favor or anything, just make the call.”
Armstead was one of several Saints players who suggested that this season’s stunning playoff exit was even more difficult to cope with than last season’s “Minneapolis Miracle” — because that was a play they failed to make as opposed to an officiating call.
“Last year we felt like we got beat. They made a play and we didn’t stop them. And as tough as that was, I think as a player you can handle that,” punter Thomas Morstead said. “And this, you know, it just feels a little dirty. It just feels a little dirty.”