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Stephen Jones: “Good chance” replay review of pass interference will go away

Mike Florio, Chris Simms and Peter King look at the coaches who are on the hot seat around the NFL and determine if they deserve another year with their team.

Saints coach Sean Payton, a member of the Competition Committee, recently suggested changes to the process which imply that the process has a chance of surviving beyond 2019. Cowboys COO Stephen Jones, also a member of the Competition Committee, recently suggested that the process won’t survive beyond 2019.

“I hope they take the [replay] challenge away from the judgment calls, the offensive and defensive pass interference,” Jones told Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’m going to be a big fan of hoping that goes away. There’s a good chance it will be.”

Jones said that he was the last member of the eight-person Competition Committee to sign off on the use of replay review for pass interference calls and non-calls on a one-year experimental basis, calling it a “scratch-the-itch” move after the non-call of defensive pass interference in the NFC Championship game.

“I think people have been bit both ways,” Jones said. “I think half the coaches want to move on from it and half the coaches want more of it. We’ll see what happens, but I don’t think that’s good for our game.”

Jones generally wants fewer penalties and challenges, and he believes that bad calls are simply part of the game.

“We played in New England up there and we had phantom tripping calls,” Jones told Engel. “I promise you, all 32 teams go through something where they thought they got the wrong end of the deal. I heard where [Patriots coach Bill] Belichick was upset about his game the other day [against the Chiefs] they lost in terms of calls. You’re going to have some go for you, and some against you.”

That’s a healthy attitude; an acceptance that, sometimes, sh-t does indeed happen. And while that may be good enough for the 32 teams who win some and lose some when it comes to bad calls, bad calls have become bigger than the teams who become bitten by them.

The growth of legalized gambling has made it more important for the integrity of the outcomes of games to not be undermined by bad calls. More and more Americans will be wagering hard-earned money on final scores that easily can be affected by incompetent officiating. And the more this happens, the more that Congress will become inclined to exercise oversight of pro sports.

The Securities and Exchange Commission regulates all things relevant to the fluctuation of stock prices, ensuring integrity in the inherent gamble that comes from buying and selling shares. At some point, the federal government could be inclined to create an agency aimed at ensuring that sports leagues are compelled to take all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure that officiating errors won’t impact whether a bet wins or loses.

That’s why Jones and every other team and league executive needs to have a much different attitude regarding bad calls than “sh-t happens.” If they don’t, it definitely will.