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Players, coaches in the dark on Hail Mary pass interference calls

The NFL needs to figure out the new pass interference replay review policy soon or else the issue could hover over the league's 100th season.

Many eyebrows were raised this weekend when we pointed out the recent comments of Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay, who said that officials should treat Hail Mary plays as “survival of the fittest,” rather than strictly calling pass interference penalties the way they would on any other play.

Former Colts and Buccaneers coach and current NBC Sports analyst Tony Dungy said he was surprised to learn that’s what the Competition Committee thinks about those plays. Dungy said that as a coach, he never knew that the officials were given a different standard on Hail Mary plays and therefore never taught his players that they had more leeway for pass interference on Hail Mary plays.

“If that’s the case, tell me that as a coach so I can coach it that way,” Dungy said this morning on PFT Live. “Don’t officiate a certain way but I don’t know it. And to me, I don’t know how you can do that. I don’t know how you can say we’re going to review pass interference in the end zone except on Hail Mary plays. I think that doesn’t make sense at all. . . . If it’s a penalty, it’s in the rule book, you need to enforce it.”

Dungy believes the league is at risk of making the situation worse by adding replay to pass interference but not thinking through all the ramifications of how that will change the way the game is called.

“I think you’re going to have a lot of these kind of issues that nobody anticipated before,” Dungy said.

It’s the Competition Committee’s job to anticipate all of the issues and get everyone on the same page now, before an unintended consequence changes the outcome of a game once the season starts.