He might not be the biggest fan of the idea in the world, but Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II didn’t have much choice other than the acknowledge the reality that we are likely to see some rule changes this offseason concerning the means by which the game is officiated after the play.
There are about a half-dozen rule proposals on the table that the Competition Committee will be considering and the owners will be voting on that, in some form or fashion, broach the topic of extending the replay review system to include penalties. The vast majority of them are limited in scope, but there is even one—at least one—that would allow non-penalties to be penalized via review.
While Rooney said that he hasn’t had a lot of conversations with the other owners to get an intimate sense of where their heads are, he did say late last week that “my sense is that there is an interest in expanding replay maybe more than I would like, so I do think some of these proposals are going to get serious attention”.
Always master of the understatement, when Rooney says something like he things they are ‘going to get serious attention”, that likely translates into “I think some of these will most likely pass’. He went on, “there’s more interest in looking at how we make sure that plays are getting corrected than in other years”.
Of course, the primary reason for that is because of the very high-profile nature of a pass interference penalty that was not called against the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game on a critical third-down play late in the fourth quarter. Had the flag been thrown, as it unquestionably should have—or had the officials been able to review the play and flag it after the fact—the New Orleans Saints in all likelihood would have advanced to the Super Bowl.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Saints were involved in another pretty meaningful situation in which cornerback Joe Haden was penalized for a defensive pass interference penalty in the end zone in the first quarter in New Orleans in Week 16. The play occurred on fourth down from a way back, but instead of the ball changing possession, the Saints got the ball on the one-yard line. The league essentially acknowledged its mistake after the game.
Regarding the specific nature of the wording of some of the rule changes, Rooney believes they need to be further clarified. “When we say it’s reviewable, whether that includes actually having a play that was not called as a foul be changed to there is a foul”, is unclear, he said.
“That would be the question, whether that play would be reviewable, and that is part of the discussion”, the Steelers owner added. My guess is that if it did not specifically reference non-calls, it probably isn’t intended to include them, but we’ll see as we get closer to voting on the rules.