GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur was “ecstatic” that the NFL dumped its replay review of pass-interference penalties.
NFL teams agreed to add pass interference to the challenge system following the blown call in the 2018 NFC Championship Game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. However, the results only led to angry coaches, players and fans. Just 13 of 81 pass-interference challenges were successful in 2019. The change was enacted for one year. On May 7, an extension of the rule wasn’t even put up for a vote by the Competition Committee. As Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay told SiriusXM NFL Radio at the time, the rule “died a natural death.”
LaFleur danced on the grave, having lost two early-season challenges before learning the folly of wasting a red flag for even what seemed like obvious infractions.
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“Don’t you guys remember how angry I would get when I would have to challenge a PI because I knew it wasn’t going to get overturned?” LaFleur said the “Wilde & Tausch” radio show on ESPN Wisconsin on Thursday. “I was extremely happy. It just takes that decision out of your hands.”
NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said the pass-interference replay system “failed miserably.”
“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,” Vincent told NBC Sports’ Peter King. “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.”
LaFleur sees potential in the SkyJudge system, which will be used on a trial basis in the 2020 preseason, as a tool to help officials rather than overrule them. “It’s really the egregious missed calls that you’re trying to eliminate,” LaFleur said. “If you can have somebody upstairs that can see it. It’s not meant for the ticky-tack calls. I think that would be the best way, just to experiment that way.”