The NFL is close to finalizing a rule change that would alter the way instant replay is used during games according to multiple reports.
But, to the chagrin of many fans of New Orleans (the team leading the charge behind the change), the rule modification doesn’t quite go as far as they would like it to do.
The National Football League’s Competition Committee is behind the rule change which would certain penalties like pass interference and personal fouls reviewable by instant replay according to 247Sports.com.
Still, there is no certainty that the rule will pass and, indeed, there’s still a lot of debate left to do. It isn’t known whether or not the rule will be adopted at the annual meeting.
And, even though the committee supports the change, there isn’t a lot of support for replay review in cases where flags are not thrown onto the field. Another proposal of having a judge sitting in the box with a move macro view of the field was also thrown out. This judge would be able to, in theory, call penalties that referees on the field might have missed.
The Washington Post quotes the report in part, writing: “There was not strong support on the competition committee for making interference or personal fouls reviewable when no flag was thrown on the field or a sky judge system…What, if anything, the committee proposes remains to be seen.”
All of this comes about because of a controversial NFC Championship game that saw a collision between New Orleans Saints’ wide receiver Tommy Lee Lewis and the Rams’ cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman but no penalty was called on the play. As those who know the ins and outs of NFL rules theorize, if a penalty were levied, the outcome of the game could have gone quite differently.
Discussing the rule change with ESPN Atlanta Falcons president and committee chairman Rich McKay said, “Given the significance of the play, and the focus on that error late in the game, you need to have a top-down discussion again…I think that’s the right thing to do. When you have it, you may come up with some ideas to modify replay, add to, subtract from, whatever it may be. I think that’s a healthy discussion. …And also, I think you’re going to have some people who have historically wanted to expand replay and want to use this moment to have that discussion, which I don’t blame them for wanting to do. For any discussion about it, you have to go all the way through, meaning end to end, because there are so many complications to it, in the way it impacts the game, officiating, time of game, pace of game, all those things. We are going to do that.”
Still, the rules proposed would not have changed the outcome of this game as there was no flag on the play. Looking towards the future, however, and the Competition Committee sees some benefit to the instant replay expansion.
The Competition Committee will present its findings during the NFL’s annual meeting March 24 through March 27. There, any rule changes and the language thereof will be discussed and debated. These changes could also be finalized but no one is expecting that outcome right now.