The biggest rule news of the year last season was the decision to allow pass interference penalties—whether they were called on the field or not—to be reviewable, on a one-year trial basis to be revisited this season to decide whether or not to make the rule permanent.
After last year’s dismal failure of implementation, it doesn’t even appear as though the Competition Committee is going to entertain the discussion. It will just be taken as a given that the replay rule is dead for now, perhaps to be revisited some time in the distant future when they have a better plan, perhaps never.
It’s worth reminding that the Competition Committee was not behind the rule in the first place, nor were the owners. The push ended up coming from the head coaches themselves. A part of me wonders if the league hadn’t sabotaged its implementation because they didn’t want to actually have the rule.
Whenever the next owners meeting takes place, and in whatever form that may take, the owners will not be voting upon the replay review rule at all. It should be considered dead from this point forward, and that shouldn’t be a surprise when considering the fact that almost three quarters of the teams who responded to a poll said they would not want to keep the rule.
Many have framed it as a bad rule. I blame the execution. I think the rule is fine. The CFL has been reviewing pass interference penalties for a while now. The problem was the simple fact that Al Riveron is rather bad at making accurate decisions as them an in charge of the replay system.
He took an incredibly conservative approach to the rule, even failing to flag very obvious instances of pass interference. Yet there were the occasional exceptions, like the one the Pittsburgh Steelers were hit with in Week Two against the Seattle Seahawks. Later in the year, they failed to correctly get an obvious pass interference penalty called.
The only problem with the rule was the fact that the person making the decisions at the final stage was making bad ones. I still believe in the importance and need to expand replay to include penalties, because a flag—or a missed flag—can be just a crucial to the outcome of a game as anything else.
Obviously some discretion would be in order to make sure that they get everything right. But at least for the time being, the league doesn’t even want to have the discussion again. Meaning there will be no mechanism to correct situations like the one that directly inspired the rule, which cost the New Orleans Saints a trip to the Super Bowl.