When it comes to replay review for pass interference, the easy decision for the NFL is to dump it. The tougher decision is replacing it.
Next Tuesday, the league’s owners will have a virtual meeting, their first collective conversation since the pandemic began. As one source with knowledge of the situation explained it to PFT, however, the absence of an in-person meeting will make it difficult to reach a consensus on such a thorny and difficult (and potentially expensive) question.
So don’t be surprised if the owners decide to revert to trusting the officials to get it right on the field. Replay review didn’t work, either because the league office wasn’t able to properly execute it or because it’s impossible to consistently handle close cases given the subjectivity of the rule — or both. Under the unique circumstances of the current health crisis, hashing out an acceptable replacement via a mega-Zoom meeting portal will be very hard to accomplish.
Besides, the league currently has bigger fish to fry. Major changes with potential unintended consequences (such as coming up with a better way to avoid another Rams-Saints NFC Championship debacle) take a back seat to more basic questions like how to stage 256 regular-season games with minimal player and coach coronavirus infections. Indeed, having a controversial finish to a conference title game would be good news for the league this year, because that means that there actually will be conference title games.
As a practical matter, if the 2020 season proceeds under the pre-2019 rules and if there are no major incidents, the league may decide to stay the course for 2021. And, if 2021 unfolds without incident, the league may decide to kick the can into 2022. And so on, until there’s another major controversy fueled by the failure to spot an obvious pass interference foul with a Super Bowl berth or a Super Bowl win riding on the outcome.