NFL Will Consider Replay Reviews for Penalties


NFL Will Consider Replay Reviews for Penalties
Jan 31, 2019

ATLANTA — The NFL will consider implementing replay reviews of penalties and no-calls, commissioner Roger Goodell said at a news conference Monday, just over a week after a missed pass interference call marred the end of the NFC championship game and helped the Los Angeles Rams beat the New Orleans Saints to advance to Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots.

Speaking at his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference, the 59-year-old answered numerous questions about the officiating of the NFC championship, as well as repeating the league mantra about Colin Kaepernick’s absence from NFL rosters being explained purely by on-field play, and the league office having nothing to do with the decisions of individual teams.

“We will look again at instant replay,” Goodell said. “There have been a variety of proposals over the last, frankly, 15 [or] 20 years on whether replay should be expanded. It does not cover judgment calls. This was a judgment call.”

Goodell said that in previous years, “coaches and clubs” have not supported the idea of adding an official with the power of reversing a no-call like the sequence late in the fourth quarter of the NFC championship, when Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman hit Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis before the pass arrived, but the referees did not throw a flag.

“Whenever officiating is part of any kind of discussion postgame, it’s never a good outcome for us,” Goodell said. “But we also know our officials are human, and that they’re officiating a game that moves very quickly, and that they have to make snap decisions under difficult circumstances, and they’re not going to get it right every time.”

Goodell also said he did not believe he had the authority to overturn the result of the game.

The news conference was viewed by some as being too late for the league to be addressing the missed call, a notion Goodell bristled at.

“We addressed this immediately after the game,” Goodell said. “We spoke to the coach. The coach announced the conversation and the fact that this play should have been called. We had several conversations with those clubs and other officials over the next several days. That’s our process. It’s what we always do with particular judgement calls.”

In response, Saints receiver Michael Thomas tweeted, “He ain’t talk to us.” Thomas is hardly the only one in New Orleans still angry about the call, which Goodell acknowledged, but also maintained it was out of his control and did not call for an immediate drastic change in protocol.

“We understand the frustration of the fans, and we certainly want to address that,” Goodell said. “It’s a play that should be called, and we’re going to do everything we can going forward to improve.”

Regarding Kaepernick, Goodell said more of the same, repeating the same lines fans have heard since Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers following the 2016 season.

“I think if a team decides that Colin Kaepernick, or any other player, can help their team win, that’s what they’ll do,” Goodell said. “They want to win and they make those decisions individually, to the best interest of their club.”

Early in the news conference, Goodell lauded Atlanta’s civil rights history, mentioning Martin Luther King Jr. and congressman John Lewis.

But he didn’t engage much with a question about how history will look upon the apparent end of Kaepernick’s career following his kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality.

“I’ve said it many times, privately, publicly, that our clubs are the ones that make decisions on players that they want to have on their roster,” Goodell said. “They make that individually, they make that in the best interest of their team. And that’s something that we as the NFL take pride in.”

Goodell also largely dodged a question about the cancelation of the news conference for halftime performer Maroon 5, traditionally held during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Multiple artists, including Rihanna, were reported to have declined the offer in solidarity with Kaepernick.

After admitting he “wasn’t expecting” a question about the relatively minor news conference controversy, Goodell’s answer was a bit disjointed compared to the rest of his ultra-polished hour-long affair, but finished with a full-throated defense of his league’s cultural standing.

“Just to be clear, we have close to 200 million fans,” Goodell said. “We know there are segments that are going to have different reactions to different things that go on in our league. Ultimately I think people respect and admire the things we do and want to be part of it.”

James Crabtree-Hannigan is a senior in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, covering the Super Bowl for the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism.

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