Al Riveron vows to overturn only “clear and obvious” PI plays

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Remember not long ago when no one knew what a catch was? The debate about what pass interference is (or isn’t) is about to begin.

Although NFL referees Tony Corrente and Ron Torbert said nothing changes for officials with pass interference now reviewable, it could have a huge impact on the game as Mike Florio addressed this morning. Al Riveron will determine that.

The NFL’s senior vice president of officiating cited two plays that he would have overturned on replay: A non-call on Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore for pass interference on Rams receiver Brandin Cooks in Super Bowl LIII and a non-call on Chargers receiver Mike Williams for pushing off on Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller, who was called for defensive pass interference on the play.

Riveron said the only feedback he has gotten from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or the Competition Committee since is “let’s get it right.”

Officials held their annual clinic in Dallas this weekend, and the media was allowed into the opening sessions when Riveron went through rules changes for 2019, using video examples. He saved pass interference for last.

“Remember the magic words and live by them,” Riveron told officials about pass interference. “Clear and obvious. Visual. Clear and obvious. Visual. Significantly hinders. Remember those words, and then when we live by those words, we will succeed. Clear and obvious, that’s the standard for replay. This is part of the replay rule, and that’s the standard. Clear and obvious. Visual evidence. Significantly hinders.”

Riveron first showed several examples of plays that might or might not have been called interference on the field. Most of the plays he showed were debatable, with Riveron saying whatever was called on the field would stand.

He showed three different angles of a play from the Falcons-Bengals game, and said, “It’s not what we think. It’s not what our gut tells us. It’s what we can see clear and obvious. But again, that has nothing to do with the way we’re officiating on the field. That has not changed at all — at all. . . .Do I think it’s a foul? Yes. Can I prove it? No. Based on that shot, we will not change the ruling on the field. Does it smell? Does it look funny? Yes, it does. Again, clear and obvious.”

He showed a play involving 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon against Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin and another play that had Lions cornerback Teez Tabor covering Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph and said whatever was called on the field would stand.

Riveron did not show the infamous play from the NFC Championship Game that prompted owners to follow the wishes of coaches and vote in instant replay for pass interference for 2019. Riveron, though, did show the two controversial plays he cited as examples of plays he would penalize from New York.

He said Gilmore “grabs his hand and does not allow [Cooks] to get his hand up. That is a foul. So we would put one down on this. He significantly hinders the opponent’s opportunity to make a play on the ball. That is a foul.”

Riveron also confirmed he would have penalized Williams for pushing off on Fuller, creating offsetting penalties and a replayed down. Instead of having the ball at the 1-yard line, the Chargers would have had another play from the 10 with eight seconds remaining.

“We have a flag on the ground for defensive pass interference,” Riveron said. “. . .No. 1, we leave the flag on the ground. We do not have clear and obvious evidence that it’s not DPI. That contact right there, that’s not clear and obvious that it’s not DPI. Then, additionally, we put a flag on the ground for OPI, which makes this an offset. So again, PI becomes reviewable aspect of the play. Remember this play.”

Remember this: It is not what is clear and obvious to anyone except Riveron. He now is the judge on any reviewed interference play, and that surely will make for some debated rulings during the season.

16 responses to “Al Riveron vows to overturn only “clear and obvious” PI plays

  1. Only thing that is going to be “clear and obvious” is the mess this is going to be!

  2. The debate about pass interference should have been held years ago after the so called Failed Mary.When the defender had sole possession of the ball he was nowhere near the ground. That’s why batting the ball down is usually the best play.

  3. Where is the school that people like Riveron, Goodell, and Bruce Allen went to where they learn to keep a high paying job with no accountability when they are clearly incompetent.

    I’d like to take some night classes there

  4. You want to fix calls like the Saints game, fine. That was awful. Disagree on the Gilmour call. Not because I’m a Pats fan. If that is a flag then one has to be thrown every time a ball is in the aur.

  5. Gilmour briefly grabbed Cooks’ arm, which is part of the hand fighting that goes on during every pass play. Cooks still got both arms up and both hands on the ball until DHarmon blew up the play. Cooks didn’t even complain. I don’t care what Riverton says. NOT a flag. If it is, it’ll be a long year.

  6. This is going to be an absolute mess. It’s such a subjective call, and this only adds to the ridiculous length of an NFL game. Total overcorrection by the NFL that is unnecessary

  7. tedmurph says:
    July 15, 2019 at 5:36 pm
    Gilmour briefly grabbed Cooks’ arm, which is part of the hand fighting that goes on during every pass play. Cooks still got both arms up and both hands on the ball until DHarmon blew up the play. Cooks didn’t even complain. I don’t care what Riverton says. NOT a flag. If it is, it’ll be a long year.

    ———–

    I agree with you. Since it was not called PI on the field, there was not clear and obvious evidence that he was significantly hindered. Can’t overturn it. If it was called PI on the field, I would have been ok with it being upheld also. The call supersedes if there isn’t enough evidence.

    If they called PI properly Cooks wouldn’t have been in that game, so there’s that too.

  8. The NFL is always going to give the big TV market teams preference on iffy calls over small TV market teams. Unless of course you’re the Pat’s then it’s in the bag.

  9. That’s going to ruin the Patriots 3rd and long play. Patriots receiver runs and flops. Patriots receiver complains, ref throws flag indicating PI on the defense. Patriots benefit from flag. Rinse and repeat.

  10. In my mind “clear and obvious” would mean easily seen at real speed from more than one angle, like the Saints/Rams play. The Gilmore play was only “obvious” in slow motion. But the NFL will be NFL.

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