Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Dungy: “Ridiculous” to have different PI standards for “Hail Mary” plays

After it was announced that the NFL competition committee will be adjusting the pass interference replay review rule, it may be time for the sport to embrace the video official, or 'Sky Judge'.

They were colleagues in Tampa, but on this issue they’re clearly on opposite sides of the fence.

Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay wants to insulate “Hail Mary” plays from replay review for pass interference, because he believes that in those situations the normal standard for pass interference evaporates. Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy strongly disagrees.

“Why should illegal activity be allowed because it’s the last play of the game?” Dungy wrote on Twitter in reaction to our post regarding McKay’s comments. “Don’t the rules apply all the time? Or is it just parts of the play? Are they saying you can’t be offsides, linemen can’t hold, but receivers and DBs can push off or grab. That’s ridiculous.”

Coach Dungy is right. One of the biggest flaws within the NFL’s approach to officiating comes from the disconnect between the rules on paper and the rules in practice. If McKay wants to change the definition of pass interference to exempt “Hail Mary,” he should embark on the process of revising the written rules.

Instead, McKay wants to take the current rulebook, which defines pass interference without regard to down, distance, remaining time, or any other factors and which as of March 2019 makes pass interference subject to replay review in all instances, and carve it up, using the blank check that ownership gave to the Competition Committee (mistake) to modify the availability of replay review in certain situations.

One of those situations McKay plans to exempt from replay review for pass interference will be the “Hail Mary” scenario, apparently so that game officials can decline to enforce the pass interference rules as written without the league office accidentally enforcing the pass interference rules as written via replay review.

It truly is ridiculous, and Dungy -- who has a very measured, calm, and even-handed presence -- using that word to describe the situation should get the attention of anyone and everyone in position to influence whether and to what extent this increasingly convoluted effort to prevent another Rams-Saints debacle will lead to a lot more confusion, controversy, and consternation for anyone and everyone who cares about the game.

But that’s what happen when a repair that could have been made with a scalpel (video official/Sky Judge) is instead made with a sledgehammer (all pass interference calls and non-calls are subject to replay review). And now McKay is still swinging that same sledgehammer to clean up the mess that the first swing made.