2:00 PM ET
Kevin SeifertESPN Staff Writer
- ESPN.com national NFL writer
- ESPN.com NFC North reporter, 2008-2013
- Covered Vikings for Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1999-2008
The NFL competition committee has decided not to endorse a renewal of replay review for pass interference, according to a list of rule proposals released Friday by the league.
The committee also declined to endorse a pair of team proposals for versions of a sky judge concept, making it possible that the NFL will abandon recent intervention and return to the rules it had in place for its controversial 2018 NFC Championship Game.
Owners usually follow the committee’s recommendations and rarely approve proposals submitted by individual teams. A notable exception came last year, when owners pushed the committee to write a proposal for reviewing pass interference calls and non-calls. Commissioner Roger Goodell was among those who wanted a tangible response to a missed call that helped the Los Angeles Rams defeat the New Orleans Saints and advance to Super Bowl LIII.
The rule led to the NFL reviewing subjective decisions for the first time, and its execution flummoxed players, coaches and fans. Senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron was never able to establish a consistent standard for what would and would not be overturned.
Because the rule was passed on a one-year experimental basis, it would need to be approved again through a vote of owners to continue.
Owners are scheduled to meet May 19-20 in Marina Del Ray, California.
Many coaches prefer a version of a sky judge, a concept used in the Alliance of American Football in 2019 and the XFL in 2020. The Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers proposed two ideas. One is a booth umpire who would serve as an eighth member of the officiating crew, with the ability to communicate with the rest of the crew from a vantage point in the press box. The other is a senior technology assistant to the referee. The “STAR,” as it is referred to in the proposal, would have access to video equipment and the authority to consult with officials in a limited number of situations.
Owners are obligated to consider all proposals, whether from the competition committee or teams. But if they take the committee’s advice, the NFL will not have a backstop for correcting some of its most obvious officiating mistakes in 2020.
The committee did endorse two rule proposals:
• A rule that would prevent teams from manipulating the game clock by committing multiple dead-ball fouls while the clock is running. The New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans were among the teams that used the tactic out of punt formations to drain time from the clock while protecting a lead.
• Expanding defenseless player protection to kickoff and punt returners who have possession but haven’t had time to ward off impending contact.