Standing in the way of two interesting rules proposals is one very big cautionary tale. You’re probably sick of hearing about what went wrong with the preseason rule passed in 2019 that made pass-interference replay-reviewable, but it does have something to do with the Sky Judge and the onside-kick proposals that will be heard at a special league meeting Thursday, then voted on.
Quick review: After the uncalled pass-interference on the Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman late in the Rams-Saints NFC title game, the outcry prompted the league to approve a rule 14 months ago that would allow coaches to throw the challenge flag on pass-interference flags they thought were in error, or to throw a challenge flag on a play the coach thought should have been interference. The rule was administered sporadically and inconsistently—to put it mildly—with many egregious calls not being overturned by review. The rule was not a one-year experiment, and it died an infamous death this off-season. It was not even put up for a vote to continue for a second year.
On Friday, when speaking to Troy Vincent about rules, he lumped in last year’s failure of the pass-interference with the Sky Judge proposal.
“We cannot fail this year,” Vincent told me. “We saw, a year ago, when [the pass-interference rule] played out, starting with myself, what we put in place last year . . . Those outcomes were not good for professional football. Because we didn’t do the proper due diligence, it played out publicly. The last thing people should be talking about is the way the game is officiated. They [officials] should be faceless objects, managing and facilitating game flow.
“We failed. I’m first in line. I shared that [with league officials]. I failed, as the leader of that department. I failed. We cannot allow that to happen again. What did we learn from that? We’ve got to do our due diligence. You can’t rush and just shove something in there without knowing all the consequences. And we found that out last year, live and in action, publicly.
“We didn’t do [our due diligence] last year, and we failed, and we failed miserably.”
Well good. Someone takes responsibility for last year’s officiating debacle. So now onto this year.