Al Riveron declines to explain decision to uphold controversial OPI call

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The league’s expansion of replay review to include pass interference calls and non-calls makes NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron the most powerful man in football. He now has the ultimate authority, as to every game, to determine whether large chunks of field position will shift from one team to the other.

With great power, as the cliché goes, comes great responsibility. And that responsibility includes a need for transparency.

As to the most controversial call of Thursday night, an apparent phantom offensive pass interference call against Washington that was challenged by coach Jay Gruden, Riveron decided to uphold the ruling on the field. After the game, he declined to say much about the decision to a pool reporter.

We’re not going to talk about what constituted it, because what happens here is the ruling on the field was offensive pass interference,” Riveron said. “And remember in replay, we start replay with the premise on the field that the call is correct. And unless we have clear and obvious visual evidence to overturn the ruling on the field, we will not do that. In this situation, there was not clear and obvious visual evidence to overturn it, so we let the ruling on the field stand.”

The TV copy of the play shows no interference as the ball arrives. It’s possible, however, that the push came earlier in what appeared to be a flag route, with the receiver gained separation by giving the defender a shove that the officials saw. Indeed, one of the broadcast angles shows that the official had reached for the flag and begun to throw it out before

It’s also possible that the referee explained this to Riveron, who was unable to pinpoint the moment of offensive pass interference based on the available TV angles.

If that’s the case, why wouldn’t Riveron just say that? It’s possible that he doesn’t want to highlight the reality that the replay process has an inherent flaw. When it comes to pass interference, plenty of pushing and shoving and jostling will happen while the ball is in the air, but before it — or the cameras — arrive. Absent cameras trained to all eligible receivers at all times, there will be situations where instances of called and uncalled interference will be unreviewable, because it will have happened away from the view of the sole device for allowing replay review.

19 responses to “Al Riveron declines to explain decision to uphold controversial OPI call

  1. All this because despite winning the coin toss the Saints could not win the game. Absolutely ridiculous, funny how the Current World Champs were able to beat KC though.
    As a fan I’d be more upset my team choked in OT.

  2. “It’s possible, however, that the push came earlier in what appeared to be a flag route …”

    Oh, dear. With review of a fumble, or a catch, or a first down, you have to look no further than the ball.

    But with PI/OPI, the infraction/judgment call could have been made any time and any where during the play.

  3. Last year ended with the silliness of an obvious bad call and this year begins with the silliness of an obvious bad call.

    Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
    The Who

  4. Everyone who knows anything about football saw clear and obvious evidence to overturn the call on the field. Makes you wonder how Riveron and the ref that threw the flag in the first place even have jobs officiating at the highest level. Must be a case of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’.

  5. Before, a relatively anonymous official had the power to determine whether large chunks of field position will shift from one team to the other. There was no transparency then, either. At least now that call will be reviewed by someone whose name we do know and can be held accountable. I don’t really care if he explains the thought process on every call. If it’s clear he’s making mistakes on a regular basis, he’ll be doing something else in the future.

  6. The NFL continues to suffer for its short sighted slighting of Dean Blandino by refusing to pay him for the additional responsibility of overseeing every game and every call. Al Riveron is in way over his head and seems to be constantly swinging between being too intrusive and hands off. No one, least of all the teams or fans will have any idea what constitutes “clear and obvious” in Riveron’s opinion as he reacts to the previous week’s perceived errors and fan outcries. The sensible thing would be to rehire Blandino at a suitable salary and put him in charge of the replay. Being in charge of the officials and replay is simply too big a job for one person – just as Blandino foresaw.

  7. So, in practice, the replay will only overturn non-calls where it’s obvious that it occurred. Replay doesn’t have the ability to “prove a negative” when PI is called and challenged.

  8. This rule will be so bad -worse than the hitting of the quarterback – it Matthews hit last year – that it will be changed before the season starts – or at least will be modified after a few games into the season – never saw anything so dumb in my long life.

  9. At least with the hitting-too-hard rule last year the refs were able to just kind of cool it midway through the season. The PI challenge rule, however– coaches are just going to keep on chucking the max number of flags. There’s no stopping it.

  10. Yeah let’s stick with the call on the field crap …. that OPI call wasn’t clear enough on the play , that means the PI last year in the Saints game wouldn’t of been called either … hmmmm ok got. Has that Ref or Refs been put under oath ?I can see it being hard to call a fumble or a catch in full speed and missing a call .. But a defender not looking for the ball plowing a receiver over before the ball even gets there wasn’t a missed call … they flat out chose not to throw the flag period CASE CLOSED. And I’m not a Saints fan … I’m mean refs miss calls full speed in traffic whatever … but that play was 2 players with the ball being thrown that way on the sideline … no matter the outcome of the game that was pure and simple dellibarate on the refs part.

  11. I gotta step in here and stand up for Al Riveron.

    I mean, the dude does make Dean Blandino look smart.

  12. Hail the power of the DVR. I can record a game, watch it later in the night and fast forward through all the crap and commercials. I can watch a game in about 45 min, unless the Packer, Patriots, or others are playing their hurry up offense. So while I think this new intrusion into the game is bad, the biggest effect it will have on me is I might have to push fast forward a couple more times a game.

  13. Why even bother? They aren’t even trying to set ground rules
    and be transparent about what they’ll be looking for.

    This Riveron guy makes Dean Blandino look like a genius –
    and that’s not going to make the game any better.
    More frustration coming this season.

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