The NFL's ill-fated experiment with pass interference replay came to an inglorious end after only one season. The league allowed for coaches to challenge pass interference penalties (both called and uncalled) for the 2019 season after the debacle that was the final minutes of the 2018 NFC Championship Game, where a missed PI call quite likely cost the New Orleans Saints a Super Bowl berth.
Ahead of league meetings earlier this month, reports suggested the NFL would not bring back PI replay at all in 2020. In the weeks since, the official word confirmed as much. Now that the secret is out in the open, the league is apparently fine with being brutally honest about the attempt. Executive Vice President Troy Vincent told Peter King the NFL "failed miserably" with pass interference replay in 2019, which makes it all the more important that they get the next rule change right in reference to a potential Sky Judge in 2020. The full quote:
"“We cannot fail this year. We saw, a year ago, when [the pass-interference rule] played out, starting with myself, what we put in place last year . . . Those outcomes were not good for professional football. Because we didn’t do the proper due diligence, it played out publicly. The last thing people should be talking about is the way the game is officiated. They [officials] should be faceless objects, managing and facilitating game flow. We failed. I’m first in line. I shared that [with league officials]. I failed, as the leader of that department. I failed. We cannot allow that to happen again. What did we learn from that? We’ve got to do our due diligence. You can’t rush and just shove something in there without knowing all the consequences. And we found that out last year, live and in action, publicly. We didn’t do [our due diligence] last year, and we failed, and we failed miserably.”"- Troy Vincent via Peter King
Instituting PI replay was never going to make everyone happy, but I'm not sure the NFL had much of a choice. They couldn't continue with the status quo after such an egregious error on national television, and wholesale changes to the pass interference rules would have been met with more resistance than introducing replay. Perhaps some fine-tuning of the replay rules may have helped matters, but if Vincent thinks they failed miserably, it seems the problem was the concept rather than the execution.
There just isn't a way to make everybody happy here. Football is a physical game where PI could probably be called on every play, and officials are going to miss calls or choose not to call them based on personal judgement on every down. It's a function of the game, not a reflection of the incompetency of officials. That's not always true, of course, but missed calls like the 2018 NFCCG that caused this whole avalanche don't happen regularly.
We'll see what Vincent and the league cook up next, but if 2019 was any indication, whatever they choose will be a subject of much debate and frustration. No matter what.