The NFL has had few officiating controversies this year, relative to other years. One happened on Sunday, when the officials called pass interference against the Vikings on a key fourth-down play and then the officials picked up the flag.
The video clearly suggested that interference happened, and that the call should have remained interference on the defense.
After the game, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers reiterated a question that from time to time rears its head. Does the league office use the real-time pipeline to instruct officials to drop or pick up flags?
“I know there’s times where — they probably won’t admit it — but New York is looking at some of these plays and telling them whether or not it was pass interference, or whatever the penalty is,” Rodgers told reporters.
Last year, the NFL experimented with making replay review available for pass interference calls and non-calls. It didn’t go well. This year, all interference calls once again should be made on the field by the officials with no assistance or oversight from the league office.
While there’s a Machiavellian argument to make in support of using the high-tech tin-cans-and-string to let the league office fix obvious blunders, it should only apply when blunders are obvious. On Sunday, the blunder wasn’t obvious; indeed, it wasn’t even a blunder.
Whatever happened, the officials got that one wrong. If the mistake happened because the league office got involved in a situation when the league office definitely shouldn’t have gotten involved, that’s a major problem that could emerge again and again.