A year ago around this time, when the NFL was still wobbling from its time in the political shredder, the idea that the league would dare entertain extending the time of game just to review certain judgment calls on top of the current replay slate seemed ludicrous.
A vocal minority of fans were convinced that the game was too choppy. Too soft. Too long. Too bogged down by a rulebook where even the most basic questions—what is a catch?—could not be answered without a mountain of legalese. It wasn’t football anymore.
How times change. The NFL came roaring back in 2018 and reestablished itself atop the American sports hierarchy. As Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk noted Monday, the AFC championship game just about tripled the most watched World Series and NBA finals games of 2018. Assuming the Super Bowl keeps us fat and happy offensively, there should be plenty of momentum to pacify those on the competition committee who want to review pass interference calls.
Reviewing pass interference is a thing we say we don’t want until something like Sunday’s Saints-Rams game happens. While I think there’s some interesting revisionist history already being applied to the call—making it seem like the sole reason the Saints are not in the Super Bowl and that the Rams weren’t also the victim of some fairly egregious no calls—it was significant and horrifying enough to warrant immediate action. And really, this shouldn’t take more than a long lunch at the owners’ meetings to hammer out.
It wouldn’t even change the game all that much. Make it reviewable, as CBS suggested, only under two minutes and keep the challenge system the way it is. Or, allow coaches to challenge, during the game but keep a minute running clock on the central replay crew, making it so the judgment calls could only be overturned if it was outrageous enough to come across as such to Alberto Riveron in a short period of time.
This season confirmed that fans will stick with a good product even if there’s an encyclopedic rulebook that can sometimes get in the way of good competition. So, if you’re going to have all the rules, make sure there’s enough of them on the books to cover your behind in any situation.
Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet?Sign up for The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.
NOW ON THE MMQB: Albert Breer covers the nightmare day for officials in his Monday column . . . Andy Benoit on how Bill Belichick might try to slow the Rams . . . Jenny Vrentas on the Patriots making the remarkable seem routine . . . and more.
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Greg Bishop and Ben Baskin on the early years of the Robert Kraft Patriots . . . Kalyn Kahler with the latest NFL Draft Big Board . . . Tim Rohan on the incredible athletic feats of Young Andy Reid . . . and more.
1.Andy Reid took some issues with the officiating too, though I doubt he’ll be able to control that narrative.
2. A story on Carson Wentz once again brings us to an interesting place: How many players constitute a notable faction of the locker room, vs. a small sampling of disgruntled voices who you may be able to find in any workplace?
3. The Patriots are putting on a unified front ahead of the Super Bowl.
4. Is Eli Manning coming back to the Giants in 2019? ‘Shoot yeah,’ his agent says.
5. When will the Jets win the Super Bowl again?
6.Alex Smith was seen out at a Wizards game.
Feels like a Tedeschi Trucks Band kind of day, no?
Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at email@example.com