During last year’s NFC Championship, NFL fans witnessed the No-Call Heard Around the World when Rams safety Nickell Robey-Coleman took a look at all of his options while attempting to defend a pass headed in the direction of Tommylee Lewis and decided the best strategy was to barrel into the Saints wide receiver without even attempting to make a play on the ball.
While there’s admittedly no guarantee New Orleans would have won the game, they were unable to milk the clock they would have been able to drain if a flag and been thrown and were forced to settle for a field goal that was ultimately answered with a score by Los Angeles, who punched their ticket to the Super Bowl by winning in overtime.
Over the summer, the NFL did what it could to right this wrong when the league announced it would be instituting a new rule that would allow coaches to throw a challenge flag if they believe a pass interference violation had been overlooked (or called mistakingly).
It appeared to be a step in the right direction, but as anyone who’s watched football this year knows, things haven’t exactly worked as intended.
Over the course of the season, coaches have disputed a number of calls that appeared to be obvious to the naked eye and even more obvious upon video review only to have the result of the play remain unchanged, like one questionable sequence involving T.Y. Hilton from last month.
On Sunday, we got our latest example of just how broken the system seems to be when Marlon Humphry was allowed to grab DeAndre Hopkins’ arm to prevent a touchdown with literally zero repercussions even after the play was reviewed.
A couple of weeks ago, Tony Dungy suggested it might be time to bring this ill-fated experiment to an end, and based on the evidence at hand, it looks like his advice may be worth following.
According to ESPN, teams have had a 3% success rate in attempting to get a call changed stretching back to Week 4, with only a single of 33 separate challenges not resulting in the loss of a timeout.
As a result, it seems like coaches would be better off acting like pass interference reviews aren’t even an option unless they enjoy losing a timeout and wasting everyone’s time in the process.
It’s not entirely clear why the hell it’s so hard for officials to see the game the same way literally everyone sitting at home does, but until the NFL figures out a way to get them to remove their heads from inside their asses, there’s no reason to believe calls are going to get better at any point in the immediate future.
The NFL doesn’t appear to have a solution to this problem, and while I don’t really have any great ideas, I think they should take a page out of the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? playbook and allow the viewing audience to vote on whether or not a call should be changed. It’s not perfect but it’d certainly be better than what they’re currently working with.
Let’s make it happen, Roger.