By Michael Bennett
It’s pretty rare when anyone admits a mistake.
For instance, President Trump.
But the NFL did just that, even if it was on Memorial Day, when few people noticed.
NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent, in an interview with NBC Sports, acknowledged that the league “failed miserably” in its implementation of pass interference replay reviews last season and that such failure would serve as a cautionary tale for the NFL to not rush rule changes in the future.
Vincent’s comments came during a broader discussion of the “sky judge” proposal, the addition of a booth umpire to each officiating crew, a modified version of which is set to be voted on during Thursday’s NFL owners videoconference meeting.
“We cannot fail this year,” Vincent told NBC Sports. “We saw, a year ago, when [the pass interference rule] played out, starting with myself, what we put in place last year … Those outcomes were not good for professional football. Because we didn’t do the proper due diligence, it played out publicly. The last thing people should be talking about is the way the game is officiated. They [officials] should be faceless objects, managing and facilitating game flow.
“We failed. I’m first in line. I shared that [with league officials]. I failed as the leader of that department. I failed. We cannot allow that to happen again. What did we learn from that? We’ve got to do our due diligence. You can’t rush and just shove something in there without knowing all the consequences. And we found that out last year, live and in action, publicly.”
“We didn’t do [our due diligence] last year, and we failed, and we failed miserably,” he added.
The NFL last year made the groundbreaking decision to allow coaches to challenge pass interference flags and non-calls in response to the controversial missed PI call that cost the New Orleans Saints against the Los Angeles Rams in the 2018 NFC Championship Game (above). The execution of the rule proved inconsistent, however, with the NFL overturning only 13 of the 81 pass interference-related plays that coaches challenged during the 2019 regular season. (Booth reviews resulted in reversals on 11 of 20 instances.)
The rule was passed on a one-year experimental basis, and last month the NFL competition committee declined to endorse its renewal.