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.