Fans and media aren’t the only ones talking about the roughing the passer situation, after Monday night’s controversial call in the Raiders-Chiefs game and Sunday’s game-altering decision in Falcons-Buccaneers. Owners are talking about it, too.
More specifically, they’ll be talking about it next week.
Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press reports that the subject will be discussed when owners convene next week in New York for quarterly meetings. However, there’s no guarantee they’ll do anything more than talk about it.
Many think that the owners and the league want it this way, in order to ensure that quarterbacks are more likely to stay healthy. Beyond each specific team’s interest in seeing its own quarterback play, nothing craters prime-time ratings like one or both teams trotting out backup quarterbacks.
Maaddi reports it’s unlikely that roughing the passer will become subject to replay review. He cites the 2019 debacle involving replay review of pass interference. That was a failure of execution by the league, however, not a failure of concept.
As Maaddi also notes, the rulebook requires referees to err on the side of protecting quarterbacks: “When in doubt about a roughness call or potentially dangerous tactic against the quarterback, the referee should always call roughing the passer.”
While this leads to outcomes that frustrate observers, what are we going to do, quit the game? The NFL surely believes folks will huff and puff but never stop watching over something like this.
The primary concern should be legalized gambling, as explained in Playmakers. Roughing calls that reside in the discretion of one person can influence outcomes, creating a clear and easy path for potential conversion of an otherwise straight shooter into the NFL’s version of Tim Donaghy.
If an NBA-style officiating scandal is ever going to happen in football, it’s going to happen with someone who has the power to turn losses into wins and/or to help the favorite cover or not cover the spread by simply pulling out a flag and shrugging his shoulders, claiming that he was only erring on the side of protecting quarterbacks.