Will Roger Goodell save the NFL’s 100th season from a replay-review disaster?

Getty Images

Prior to the league meetings in March, it seemed that Commissioner Roger Goodell was content to allow the NFL embark on its 100th season without addressing the situation that gave rise to the Rams-Saints debacle in the postseason. Now, it seems that Goodell may be content to allow the NFL to embark on its 100th season without addressing the overcorrection to the situation that gave rise to the Rams-Saints debacle in the postseason.

Despite the seemingly high bar that the Competition Committee has crafted for overturning offensive and defensive pass interference calls and non-calls, NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron seems to be intent on applying a looser standard, based on comments he recently made to a group of NFL Media employees. The effort to address an egregious non-call of pass interference in the NFC Championship game has led to, in Riveron’s apparent view, a full-blown process for frame-by-frame analysis of judgment calls.

It’s one thing to apply a fine-toothed video comb to the question of whether a receiver got two feet in bounds when catching a pass, or whether a fumble happened before a runner’s knee struck the ground. Those questions are objective. Pass interference is subjective, and thus not conducive to the same kind of careful, deliberative assessment that Riveron seems to intend to apply.

That’s why the Competition Committee has tried to convey the notion that the extraordinary remedy of overturning a call or non-call pass interference should happen only when the evidence of error is truly clear and obvious. If the error isn’t truly CLEAR and OBVIOUS, the ruling stands.

The problem, however, is that Riveron has a proven track record of failing to apply the clear and obvious standard. It happened on multiple occasions in 2017 with the catch rule, and it’s destined to happen again — especially with Riveron telling NFL Media employees that Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore would have been flagged via replay review for pass interference at a key moment in Super Bowl LIII, even though the evidence is neither clear nor obvious that Gilmore significantly hindered Rams receiver Brandin Cooks.

That’s where Goodell comes into play. Some believe that Goodell personally intervened with Riveron in 2017, culminating in a couple of touchdown catches in Super Bowl LII that would have been overturned during the season not being overturned during the championship game. Whether Goodell did or didn’t do it then, Goodell needs to do it now.

It’s not that difficult. The rules have been changed to address an egregious mistake like the kind that happened in the Rams-Saints game. That’s the line — egregious mistake. A mistake so clear that 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 drunks in a bar would call it a mistake. The non-call on Gilmore wasn’t that kind of mistake. The non-call on Chargers receiver Mike Williams from Week 15 wasn’t that kind of mistake.

Riveron doesn’t see it that way. And the responsibility falls on one person — the Commissioner — to ensure that, before September 5, Riveron sees it that way or the league hires someone to handle the replay function who will. Only the integrity of the league’s 100th season is riding on whether the Commissioner personally addresses this problem.

42 responses to “Will Roger Goodell save the NFL’s 100th season from a replay-review disaster?

  1. I would think if the league was going to overreact to something that happened in the playoffs, it would be giving both teams the ball in overtime, rather than opening this replay can of worms.

  2. This is dead season news. It will work out. I remember last year this time it was the new tackling rule that was going to be the end of football as we know it and it was barely noticeable.

  3. Riveron has long been known to be a problem but the owners refuse to see that their refusal to pay Dean Blandino is the root cause of the problem. New Orleans supporters should be outraged that Riveron is again threatening the sport and the game. Riveron should be fired and Blandino enticed back … only that would require the owners to admit their error … and everyone knows that billionaires do not make mistakes.

  4. You have it exactly right, Mr. Florio. I thought Riveron had learned his lesson, but it sure doesn’t look like it based on his comments. I sure hope somebody straightens him out before the season begins.

  5. Worst hire Goodell’s ever made is Riveron and then that replay guy Russel Yurk. Goodell won’t fire them now but those two have gotta go!! They’re making the games unwatchable!!!

  6. Tip of the cap to you, Florio……….. That was a nice shot across Riveron’s bow and it needed to happen. This is getting out of control.

  7. Of course!
    Roger will step in and save the day like he always did.

    Remember how he adeptly handled the super bowl disaster in Dallas, where some of the seats weren’t ready and people had to watch the game on TV?

  8. Florio does a great job explaining the difference between an objective call (fumble) and a subjective one (PI).
    But then he says “the line” is egregious versus not egregious.
    No. No. No.
    The line is objective calls versus subjective calls. And we all agreed for decades that subjective calls are not reviewable.
    This knee jerk reaction is setting the league back. Hopefully it can be undone for the 101st season.

  9. NFL will never be able to forgive themselves of the Rams-Saints game that cost the latter team a trip to Atlanta and that of possibly a thrilling Super Bowl finish.

  10. If the league had integrity, that situation would have never happened?
    But as long as the fans of the 31 other teams are ok with that kind of thing..
    Its funny to see yall squirm as a result of these rules. A bit of poetic justice.

  11. Short answer to this story’s headline query: No. Goodell doesn’t think anything is wrong with how the league conducts its business. That’s why his tenure as commish has been a never-ending dumpster fire.

  12. I think you’re blowing this all out of proportion. Replay review of PI has been a thing in the CFL for years and it hasn’t been a major issue. It’s a judgment call in real time and it’s a judgment call in slow motion replay. Much like other replays, unless there’s overwhelming evidence the call(or non-call) on the field is rarely reversed.

    The amount of bad calls/non-calls being reversed greatly outweighs the questionable review decisions.

  13. I get the point you’re making, but you’re using a bad example to make it.

    A DB pulling on the arm of a WR before the ball arrives is exactly what the new rule is for.

  14. A bigger failure remains unaddressed – the league and most of the media continues to ignore the supposed “Philly Special” lined up in illegal formation allowed by officials. Belichick was clearly pissed with them on the sideline that he couldn’t challenge that aspect of the play. He’s long argued that everything in every play should be challengable – but unlike the Saints he never once whined to the media or the league about it, and most were just happy the formation rules were broken to defeat the Patriots.

  15. The CFL has had video replay for a few seasons now relating to PI. Overall, the system works quite well. Does it solve 100% of the issues, not a chance and never will. However, it is far better than what currently happens in the NFL and PI.
    So, the league worth a few million can get it right, but the league worth billions is struggling to figure it out. It’s “is it a catch, or isn’t it a catch” all over again.
    As I’ve stated previously, call the guys up north for advice and get ready for September.

  16. The only way this ever works… and it would take some serious time for it TO work this way… is to call everything to the letter of the law and to change the law as necessary. Remove all subjectivity.

    The first year, offenses will run wild so a change will need to be made to the law. What THAT change does to the game decides what change to the law comes next… if any. Who knows, like the blind pig finding his cob of corn, they might hit on the right rule after only one rewrite. In other words…

    Instead of constantly trying to find good ways to interpret and apply bad rules, they should simply write better rules.

  17. So the one and only Super Bowl Philly managed to win was TAINTED!!! New England fans knew Goodell interfered and cost the Pats a Super Bowl!
    Fire Goodell!!

  18. indiapalealeblog says:
    June 25, 2019 at 11:31 pm

    Remember how he adeptly handled the super bowl disaster in Dallas, where some of the seats weren’t ready and people had to watch the game on TV?
    So it’s Roger’s fault Dallas blew it.
    Got it.

  19. The one thing that we can look forward to in the last two minutes of the half, game and all of OT where most likely almost every pass play will have to be reviewed will be a lot more commercials, which means more revenue. It takes about 5 minutes to review a play, probably more as Al goes frame by frame to see if their was contact or least enough for him to assume. Figure 10 play for review at 5 minutes, so if the game is tight add about a hour for additional commercials. Roger’s only objective is to make more money for the owners.

  20. Roger is interested only in keeping the owners happy. There are several owners that he listens to.
    Snyder, Kraft, Jones, the Rooney family, the Mara family, for example.

  21. I’m not sure where the bigger joke lies. Roger saving the NFL or the people wanting catch/ no catch blandino back.

  22. You’re at the end of the rope if your only hope is for Goodell to save football. He personifies everything wrong with the NFL.

  23. Well…he sure as heck didn’t save the 99th season from a illegitimate playoff outcome disaster.

  24. All of this replay talk on OPI/DPI is killing me. How about we just do this:

    Put a guy in the booth with a big red button in front of him. During the game, if he sees something that was obviously a penalty that wasn’t called (ie the Saints/Rams game) he pushes the button to stop the game and have it reviewed.

    The catch is – if he pushes the button and it’s ruled that no penalty happened, he gets fired. If he pushes it and a penalty is called – then the ref who missed it gets fired.

    Let’s put some skin in the game and make these guys accountable!

  25. Yeah well firing Riveron isn’t gonna happen because it would look like Goodell was bending to public pressure. So instead, they will hire some more people and place them in position to further diffuse responsibility. The best way to avoid having to hold anyone accountable is to diffuse responsibility to the extent no one is responsible. And it works, too; the government has been doing it for decades.

  26. CLEAR and OBVIOUS criteria is too subjective. Refs don’t even know what roughing the passer, or a catch is! This will just add another layer of confusion. Is Goodell trying to destroy the game?

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.