Pass interference in the NFL is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous because as a spot foul it punishes defenses far too harshly on low-percentage deep passes. But it’s even more ridiculous because those split-second, back-breaking calls can’t be reviewed.
North of the border, that has changed.
When the CFL began playing preseason games this week, pass interference calls were challengeable, giving the officials the ability to go under the hood and review whether or not contact made by the defender violated the rules. It’s the type of policy tweak that could change games, and as a result, entire seasons.
This wasn’t the same issue back before replay review was implemented. The game has become faster and it’s nearly impossible for officials to keep up with receivers and cornerbacks on deep passes. Oftentimes, you can tell they’re guessing. That’s not good for anyone. Plus, there’s more passing now than ever before.
So why won’t the NFL adopt the same policy? It wouldn’t lengthen games assuming that coaches were given the same number of challenges.
I know, I know. Judgement calls shouldn’t be reviewable. But what makes pass interference a judgement call? Indisputable evidence would still be required regardless, and interference either happened or it didn’t. If it isn’t clear, then the call stays as is. But if it’s clear the official erred, give the victimized team its 47 yards back.
And what the hell is a judgement call anyway? Why should we force officials to make these decisions at breakneck speed when we have the technology to get it right? Bill Belichick’s suggestion that every call on the field should be reviewable is bang on, but let’s at least start with the most flawed and often inequitable penalty in football by at least allowing coaches to question whether or not pass interference has occurred.