NFL Owners Vote to Add New, Yet Controversial, Rule

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The 2019 NFL season will be the 100th anniversary of the league’s existence and along with new players coming to the draft and the Jets’ polarizing new jerseys, there will be a new rule that may benefit or hinder a team’s success this season. The controversial Pass Interference (PI) penalty will now be able to be challenged by NFL coaches, according to Bleacher Report, whether it occurs on the offensive or defensive side of the ball.

On March 26, NFL owners met in order to vote on the new rules presented to their teams and it was reported that owners voted in favor of adding the challengeable PI 31 to 1. The lone team that voted against the rule change were the Cincinnati Bengals. Pass Interference has always been a very controversial call in the NFL, because it’s probably considered the most game-changing and dangerous penalty to receive compared to others.

According to NFL Penalties, there were 249 PI calls throughout the entire 2018 season which accounted for 4,280 total yards lost among teams. Most of the pass interference calls occurred on first down, with 93 being called for a total of 1,828 yards. The second most PI calls occurred on third down, the most critical down for teams trying to continue their drives, having 78 calls for 1,179 yards.

Unlike college football where PI is a 15-yard penalty any time it’s called, in the NFL it’s a spot foul. Technically, the penalty could stretch the length of the field (99 yards) if that was the case. The longest PI called in the last few years occurred in a game between the Greenbay Packers and Detroit Lions back in 2016. The end result of the play in that game called for a 66-yard penalty against former Lions cornerback, Nevin Lawson, despite the fact that Lawson in fact should not have been flagged. It moved the ball from the Packers own 32-yard line to the Lions 2-yard line and eventually resulted in a Packers touchdown.  This is where PI becomes highly controversial and gives coaches and owners more of a reason to want to be able to review these calls.

The resonating belief that this penalty needed to be reviewable began when it seemed in the 2019 NFC championship game between the Rams and Saints, that the Rams got away with an uncalled defensive PI that ultimately swung momentum in their direction. On the play in question, Rams cornerback, Nickell Robey-Coleman, made contact with Saints receiver TommyLee Lewis well before the ball came into his vicinity. This happened on the Rams’ side of the field on third down, and ultimately stopped the Saints from icing the game with a touchdown and they instead had to settle for a field goal. The Rams eventually tied up the game to send it to overtime and then went on to win, sending them to Superbowl XLIII.

After this game, there were many reports of Saints fans being so livid to the point that they had created a petition which called for a rematch of the last two minutes of the championship game. Not only that, but there were reports of Saints fans allegedly boycotting the Superbowl because of their dismay over the missed PI. This boycott was part of the reason Superbowl XLIII suffered from disappointing ratings, only having about 98 million viewers, according to Fortune. That number is a 5 million viewer drop off from the previous year’s game, and is also the lowest viewership count since Superbowl XLII.

Although it could usher in a new era of how penalties could be called or how coaches effectively use their challenges, it still calls for concerns about the rule. One issue that some have with the rule is how it will be reviewed during Hail Mary plays since they usually show a lot of contact going on between offensive and defensive players jumping for the ball. Another issue that comes into question is the fact that coaches could just save their two challenges for the end of games, especially close ones, and use the challenges when they feel their player was interfered with.

It’s a pretty progressive look for the NFL in terms of willing to listen to coaches, players, and even fans and granting them the chance to be able to review such a controversial call. Now whether it’ll hurt or strengthen the image of the NFL is to be determined. Owners, coaches, players, analysts, and fans will all get a chance to be the judge of that when the 100th season starts on Sept. 5, 2019 in a game between the Chicago Bears and Greenbay Packers.


Here’s how people on the Zip app are weighing in on this all over the country!

The NFL owners voted to allow replay reviews on pass interference calls and non-calls. Are you happy about this?

Totals
72% Ya, need it
28% No, dumb
Males
73% Ya, need it
27% No, dumb
Females
71% Ya, need it
29% No, dumb

Ya, need it

No, dumb


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