One of the flaws of human nature is that bad things sometimes just… happen, and we aren’t equipped to handle it. Someone makes a one-in-a-million mistake and there’s no recourse, nothing to be done about it, no way to fix it. We don’t like that. We like villains, we like justice, and we like solutions.
Take, for example, this.
That’s a clear and obvious penalty that gets called 999 times out of 1,000. The 1,000th time just happened to occur inside of two minutes remaining in a tied NFC Championship.
Since the moment the Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis hit the ground alongside Drew Brees’ pass, the Saints have been looking for justice in the only place justice is served in the NFL: yet another rule.
After months of study and deliberation, the NFL on Thursday announced it has revised its instant replay rules to give the replay official the power to treat pass interference like it’s any other play — to stop the game inside of 2 minutes to play in each half and award a flag the officials on the field didn’t see.
The wording of the ruling mandates the replay official may only stop the game “based on ‘clear and obvious visual evidence’ that the ruling was incorrect.” As we’ve seen in college sports, handing more power to the replay official — and the off-site command centers they communicate with — tends to only go one way. Instead of serving as a backstop, they become another umpire, interjecting and overriding their opinions above those of the on-field officials.
This obviously leads to the question of Hail Marys. Just as there’s holding on every play, there’s pass interference on every Hail Mary. For that, the NFL says, Hail Marys will be treated in replay “consistent with the guidelines for officiating the play on the field.”
— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) June 20, 2019
In plain English, unless someone straight up tackles an opponent, the replay official is supposed to let everything go on each Hail Mary. We’ll see.