Competition Committee wants Hail Mary to be “survival of the fittest”

Getty Images

As people in and around the NFL continue to debate how instant replay should be used on pass interference, Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay is making clear that the Hail Mary should not be an opportunity to draw ticky-tack flags.

McKay said it has always been assumed that there will be more bumping and jostling in the end zone on a Hail Mary than would be allowed on any other play, and using instant replay to look for pass interference should not result in penalties that wouldn’t otherwise have been called.

“Remember, in that play, officiating-wise, the philosophy has been since I have been in the League, it is survival of the fittest,” McKay said. “Everybody jumps. Everybody is shoving, everybody is trying to get the ball, knock it down, or catch it. We tell the officials, make sure you see if anybody gets pulled down or anybody gets dragged down, that is pass interference. Otherwise, it is a different play than any other play we have because there are multiple receivers and multiple defensive players in a common area.”

McKay said that one of the consequences of reviewing pass interference is going to be that the Hail Mary becomes a fundamentally different play.

“I’d hate to see replay do this to us but, you could say we are just going to play it differently,” McKay said. “And they are going to have to play it differently. That would be replay again impacting the game. But, the way the game has been played and the way that play has been played and the way that play has been officiated has been different because of the nature of the play.”

When the NFL changes rules in the offseason, it sometimes results in unintended consequences the following season. We’re still not sure how a Hail Mary exception would play out, but suffice to say that it’s going to make things different.

35 responses to “Competition Committee wants Hail Mary to be “survival of the fittest”

  1. Write an addendum to the rule that says hail Mary plays will be exempt from challenging. vote on it and make it official. Problem solved!

  2. Eh, I dunno Rich. Interference is interference. If a guy gets pushed in the back or grabbed then it should be called. Hand jostling is fine (anywhere on the field) but no ‘grasping’ or pushing.

  3. McKay is right. It’s apparently the one play where the league actually still allows contact.

  4. They will need to WRITE a actual “exception” in the rule for the “Hail Mary” play. Not just say it’s been ruled differently in the past so “pretty please keep doing that officials.”

    Also, what and who determines what a Hail Mary is? Is it only a pass play into the end zone that is over 50 yards? Or can it be a 45 yard bomb as well? Does the pass have to reach the end zone? Or is any long bomb that is a jump ball situation considered a Hail Mary? Is it only a Hail Mary at the end of the game and at end of the half?

    All questions that need clarity.

  5. The NFL still has trouble defining what a catch is…let’s now open the door to the definition of a “Hail Mary”. Or…you guys could stop tinkering with the rules.

  6. Substitute a baby for the football on a Hail Mary play. You can’t penalize a player for doing everything physically possible to catch a baby. PI is totally out the window as every player on the field becomes a receiver. It would almost turn Sunday games into church attendance when everyone watching the game prays in unison “Dear Lord, please don’t let them drop that baby!”

  7. McKay said that one of the consequences of reviewing pass interference is going to be that the Hail Mary becomes a fundamentally different play.

    “I’d hate to see replay do this to us but, you could say we are just going to play it differently,”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    And there you have it. The game is officially “managed” for entertainment purposes rather than played to the rules at all times.

  8. I’d be ok with heavy jostling except it often crosses the line into mugging – purely playing the man instead of attempting to push him out the way to get a better chance of the ball yourself. At the end of SBLII, Eagles guys were clearly told – forget the ball, just mug Gronk.

    If it it’d been the other way around you can be sure the Pats would’ve been flagged. Don’t believe me? Watch SBLIII mic’d up – where ref sees but doesn’t flag Donald for rag-dolling Brady after the ball was long gone (he just says tells him to be careful) – yet months later the ref is bemoaning that Rams Cooks’ arm was grabbed a heart-beat before the ball arrived.

  9. Well that’s ridiculous. Should it constitute ANY ball thrown into the endzone where there are multiple defenders in the area? Cos that’s definitely not open to abuse. Let’s make the rulebook even more blurry.

  10. They’re basically saying the players will not decide the outcome of the game and/or point spreads. The league and whoever it is that feels the need to control the outcome, will decide the final score and the final point spreads. Just hope your team is the one “they” want to win. I don’t bet on games, so it’s not a big deal, but they’re making it very obvious that they want to hold on to control.

  11. It really is already covered in the rule book. The Hail Mary is a ball thrown up for grabs. All players have equal rights to the ball. So if a player is playing the ball it is legal for contact. A player not attempting to make a play on the ball can be called for interference.

  12. They our going toward a place that is absurd. So on third and 20 from midfield we will now see a Hail Mary to take advantages of new rules? This is not a problem if the refs are instructed not to abide by separate rules for Hail Mary pass!

  13. Is the defense allowed to form a human triangle for purposes of a height advantage? If so, I think the Patriots are practicing it under secrecy.

  14. Ohhhhhh, I don’t know. How is the gambling world going to view this. It’s becoming clear that they call the shots now, not the sports leagues.

  15. Why would the distance of the pass and the time on the clock have anything to do with execution of existing rules seems idiotic.

  16. clownofdust says: “The NFL still has trouble defining what a catch is…let’s now open the door to the definition of a “Hail Mary”. Or…you guys could stop tinkering with the rules.”
    ————————

    If people like you stop COMPLAINING about every little pass detail after watching 28 freeze-framed instant replays fron 8 different angles, then the league wouldn’t need to “tinker” with the rules every year.

  17. Make the Hail Mary a called play. Have to report to the ref and they have to announce that contact is permissible, just like an eligible receiver is called out.

    Then, if the ball travels through the air past the 10 yard line (so as to not have issues if the ball is short of the goal line by 1 yard or so) and there is contact beyond the normal allowances, there is no penalty.

    Offense doesn’t HAVE to run the hail mary if called, but if they do throw the ball downfield as defined above, the defense has the right to initiate contact.

    clearly defined – defense will have to be careful of balls thrown around the 10-yard line, but will give them a chance to take down a receiver before they get in the endzone if they do catch it around there.

  18. Here’s a good idea why not make sure defenses play the game to the rules as opposed to exempting the rules on certain plays. If its PI its PI. Pretty simple really.

  19. So, the exact same pass play will be officiated differently depending on if it is the last play of the game/half?

    1) I don’t like it.

    2) The NFL has already has an overly complex rule book. How about making things simpler? Oh yeah, that’s hard to do and takes thoughful consideration.

  20. Have they defined what constitutes a hail mary yet?

    Otherwise you’ll get horrible crying about the refs and PI calls or non calls

    Is it any pass on the last play of the game? Any pass on last play over 30 yards? Something else?

  21. This is absurd. It is like saying a 4th down blitz involves more players closer together so holding or late hits are expected and shouldn’t be flagged. The game has rules and it is the players’ responsibility to play within those rules. If a receiver pushes off and then catches the winning TD then it shouldn’t count because he didn’t play within the rules and deserves a flag just as much as if a defender holds him down to prevent the catch.

  22. Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay is making clear that the Hail Mary should not be an opportunity to draw ticky-tack flags
    ______________________________________

    There’s no such thing as a ticky-tack foul, either it’s a penalty or it’s not, once you cross that line it SHOULD BE CALLED! Fact is if you let them cross that line by a little bit then then that guy pushes the issue farther and if he gets away with it again he pushes a little farther, NOPE take that out of even being an issue and call everything according to the rule book! That’s the problem with the NFL now, each and every ref has their own idea of what to call or not call and it leads to way too much inconsistency between the way games are called which leads to confusion from the players! The players are consistently asking themself “what are the refs going to call or let me get away with this week”?

  23. What about holding on 4th and inches or a goal line play? The formation is compact and you have a lot of bodies in a small area, does that not get called now? All I want to see from officials is consistency. A penalty is a penalty.

  24. I wonder if the people complaining about push offs are still sore about that Green Bay/Seahawks playoff game where Golden Tate beat the entire defense?

  25. What makes a “Hail Mary” play? What if an offense just lines up and do a Hail Mary with 7 minutes to go or even the first play of the game after a kickoff, will that make replays not applicable? It is a silly distinction that is impossible to implement.

  26. Can a check down be considered a Hail Mary. Just wondering how this effects Capt Kirk

  27. Make it a 15 yard and auto 1st down. That will then make sure bogus calls do not effect the game. There are a few teams that look for that call just like they do when their sissy QBs gets a finger on them they turn right away looking for a flag. No need to mention teams, we all know who they are

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!