ATLANTA (Reuters) – The National Football League (NFL) will consider rule changes, such as using ‘instant replay’ technology, to avoid the type of officiating gaffe that likely cost the New Orleans Saints a spot in the Super Bowl, Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Wednesday.
Jan 30, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a press conference in advance of Super Bowl LIII at Georgia World Congress Center. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Goodell, speaking at his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference, said he understands the frustration felt by the Saints and that the league wants to address their concerns.
“Whenever officiating is part of any kind of discussion postgame it’s never a good outcome for us. We know that, our clubs know that, our officials know that,” said Goodell.
“But we also we also know our officials are human. We also know that they are officiating a game that moves very quickly and have to make snap decisions under difficult circumstances and they are not going to get it right every time.”
Late in the NFC Championship game between the Saints and visiting Los Angeles Rams, referees missed a seemingly blatant pass interference penalty that if called would have allowed New Orleans a chance to run down the clock and kick a go-ahead field goals with about 25 seconds left in regulation.
NFL coaches are allowed to challenge a referee’s decision but they cannot query judgment calls on either penalties or uncalled penalties.
Goodell said the league has worked hard for years to bring technology in to help issues with officiating but stressed that while technology is not going to solve all those issues, it has to continue down that path.
“We will look again at instant replay. There have been a variety of proposals over the last, frankly 15-20 years of should replay be expanded. It does not cover judgment calls, this was a judgment call,” said Goodell.
“The other complication is that it was a no-call and our coaches and clubs have been very resistant and there has not been support to date about having a replay official or somebody in New York throw a (penalty) flag when there is no flag.
“They have not voted for that in the past. It doesn’t mean that we won’t, it’s something that we are going to put to the competition committee and see if there is answer to that.
“But the reality is it’s been at least an opposition philosophically for many clubs.”
The New England Patriots will play the Rams in the Super Bowl on Sunday in Atlanta.
Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar