Al Riveron says the standard for replay review of pass interference hasn’t changed

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At one point, it seemed like a Magic 8 Ball was needed to determine whether replay review of a call or non-call of pass interference would result in the ruling on the field being upheld or reversed. It now appears that a Magic 8 Ball is needed to determine the standard that will apply.

The bar has moved up and down throughout the regular season. At some point between late August and Week One, someone apparently told senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron to apply a more rigorous standard to overturning rulings on the field than the more literal test he intended to use. At some point in recent weeks, someone apparently has told Riveron to soften the standard.

Of course, that’s not how Riveron tells it.

“It is not being applied any differently than it was at the beginning of the year,” Riveron told a pool reporter after Sunday’s controversial decision to drop a flag for defensive pass interference under circumstances that essentially determined the outcome of the Dolphins-Jets game.

That technically may be accurate, if “beginning of the year” means “the preseason.” But the reality is that the standard was applied one way (the literal way) at first, another way (encompassing only egregious fouls) for a while, and a third way (the first way) more recently.

The numbers back it up. Via Mike Reiss of, pass interference challenges initiated by coaches in the first two weeks resulted in three of 12 prevailing. For Week Three through Week 10, only two of 41 prevailed. Since Week 11, four of 15 challenges resulted in a reversal.

“I don’t look at it by numbers and we don’t look at it by numbers here,” Riveron said. “We treat each one individually. That’s how we officiate the play on the field or review the play, for lack of a better term. If the numbers show one thing, we really don’t concern ourselves where we are that week, that month or that game. Again, we basically look at each ruling, at each call, at each play on an individual basis and then we apply the rule.”

The truth continues to be that, for weeks, Riveron did not overturn non-calls for pass interference when it seemed to be clear and obvious that the defensive player significantly hindered the receiver. When he does so now, he explains it by saying that the evidence of hindrance is clear and obvious, without reconciling that decision with other plays that should have triggered the same result.

The good news, if there is any, is that Riveron finally seems to be applying the standard as intended, with the postseason approaching. If he hadn’t adjusted his approach before the playoffs but then immediately did so at the start of the wild-card round, it would have been too glaring. By sliding the bar back down to its intended level before the single-elimination round, it won’t be nearly as jarring if/when the standard is applied as originally intended in January.

Of course, that will provide little comfort to teams that lost regular season games due to the higher standard. If the standard had been applied in a consistent manner all year long, the final standings may have been quite different.

And that’s the biggest problem with changing the standard on the fly. It undermines the integrity of the 256-game regular season, and it potentially results in a playoff tree that would have looked far different if a call or two or more had been resolved the other way and if, in turn, a game or two or more had a different outcome.

48 responses to “Al Riveron says the standard for replay review of pass interference hasn’t changed

  1. BS! I don’t believe a thing that the NFL says. What a sad development for the once great NFL. Major house cleaning in order.

  2. My guess is that Vegas called and explained how betting was getting seriously screwed up due to the way the calls were going. Sooooooooo the NFL has taken the steps to make things right. Just a guess

  3. If people cant see that there is a huge difference between the way this was working through the first 10 games as opposed to these past few weeks than they werent watching football. AND Riveron is so disingenuous its not funny. Why cant people just be honest?

  4. …pass interference challenges initiated by coaches in the first two weeks resulted in three of 12 prevailing. For Week Three through Week 10, only two of 41 prevailed. Since Week 11, four of 15 challenges resulted in a reversal.

    “I don’t look at it by numbers and we don’t look at it by numbers here,” Riveron said.


    Strange. Seems like exactly the kind of thing you’d expect a Senior VP of Officiating to be looking at numbers on.

    If they’re actually not tracking stuff like this, sounds symptomatic of the broader problem with officiating this year. If they are tracking it, then he’s lying by saying otherwise.

  5. Let’s have Riveron take part in a blind test:

    Show him all of the challenged calls after the end of the season, without telling him what the call on the field happened to be. Just show him the play and ask him whether or not it is PI based on the rules.

    Then compare that to his decisions made throughout the year. I think we would find a very interesting result.

  6. The refs suck and so does Riveron. That was pass interferences in the jets game tho do I think it should have been called no I don’t but it was a penalty. And if you want to nit pick the jets got hosed on multiple calls including James burgess getting flagged on a interference call that took away his interception and touchdown return. So the refs equally screwed both teams. The jets always get burnt on bad calls

  7. it doesn’t matter if it hasn’t changed or not … there doesn’t appear to be good solution. It’s just become ridiculous that after every pass play (especially a long pass) everyone looks for a flag.

  8. If it weren’t for my lifelong love affair with the Eagles I’d have little to do with this league.

  9. Please show the teams that win the most PI challenges and the least and you will have your Vince McMahon moment.

  10. A more LOGIGAL explanation is that coaches are aware of the high standard for overturning calls and ADJUSTED to only throwing challenges that might win as opposed to wasting them on incidental contacts.

  11. A solution would be to stop making the penalty a spot foul. All too often it’s a 40 yard penalty and QBs fish for it. Wise up.

  12. can we just make dpi 15 yards or spot foul if <15 yards? it works great in college. i dont care if the wr was interfered with, i dont want to see 48 yard penalties.

  13. Now the Patriots homers are upset because a few calls didn’t go their way. As the Patriots homer usually say “good teams overcome terrible calls” well it looks like the Patriots aren’t that good anymore.

  14. Seems like a similar standard as applied to get a non profane comment thru on here these days….

  15. By its very definition, it is a judgement foul. So how is it even possbile to have a universal subjective standard?

    It’s like the Vikings winning the Superbowl, it’s nice to think about but its still impossilbe.

  16. Becoming more and more obvious every week that NFL games are rigged. Winners determined ahead of time.

  17. The network(s) should cut to him live, while he deliberates a call. Then, we can all see behind the curtain and experience the genius, precision and forethought that go into making these “calls”.
    Just keep some plexiglass between him and the camera, so the dart doesn’t hit the lens when he tosses it. Those TV cameras are expensive.

  18. Don’t lie to the fans’ face.

    If you do or don’t want to enforce something, just say it.

    But lying to our faces about something we’re perfectly clear about is ten times worse.

  19. You take gambling away all this disappears and then some of the LOVE for the sport will show back up. That will never happen because the league is involved with gambling for their own profi

  20. Wow! Talk about living in denial. Riveron is better off just not saying anything at all, since each time he does speak, it only makes a bad situation even worse.

  21. I don’t even know why they made this reviewable…very seldom does it get overturned. Just a lot of lost challenges and time-outs. It’s ridiculous. A lot of guys are getting away with pretty obvious PI’s.

  22. Challenging the spot of the ball is just as bad. They will never overturn a bad spot just like they never overturn PI. No matter how conclusive the replay shows to be, they never over turn the bad calls.

  23. Clear and obvious? The only thing clear and obvious is that Al must go! Not only does he oversee these flip a coin decisions on the reviews but he also has responsibility for the guys on the field. Anyone else noticing the media and the fans are spending far too much time on the blown calls than we are about the actual games???

  24. How can he say that with a straight face???? It has 100 percent changed. Does he think nobody really has noticed??
    Every broadcaster even has commented. Just own it man and say they have made changes mid season.

  25. really it hasnt changed? because the guys in the booth for the Raiders/chiefs game were explaining how it has changed right before they actually over turned one to take away a int for the leagues new golden boy HOFer Mahomes.

  26. Blame Sean Payton and the saints for this problem we should of just left it the same even with replay Riveron is still clueless….

  27. Al Riveron says the standard for replay review of pass interference hasn’t changed
    So in other words, the gross incompetence is actually worse than we thought.
    Wow NFL, just wow!!!

  28. Great article. In the old days everyone knew what was a catch. Either a guy controlled it or the ground did. I ask, “If player X didn’t control it- then who did? Did the other man have it? Or did it touch the ground?”.

    The NFL decided to change the rule ever since replay came out (early 90’s). It has been a disaster. It reminds me of when a child lies about something and they have to keep coming up with more BS to explain illogical events.

    The problem with these guys is that they have an agenda. Instead of trying to carefully stay true to the original game- they get too far from home and they don’t realize how foolish they appear.

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