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Has the NFL Officiating Gotten Worse Since Allowing Challenges on Pass Interference?

Updated on November 7, 2019
Tabitha Jaggi profile image

Tabitha is an accountant at an international plastic company. She earned her Bachelors Degree in Forensic Accounting and Financial Planning.

NFL Officiating Over the Years

The NFL has been a huge part of my life. I have been watching it since I can remember and still study it to this day. So what has changed over the last 50 years? A lot. We have gone from "letting the boys play" with viscous and exciting hits to "touching the quarterback is roughing the passer". I mean really, the slightest bump to a QB is an automatic first down and 15 yards. That can be a whole game changer, especially when you finally make the stop on third down, of course, before the late 'Roughing the Passer' flag is thrown. Not only have they taken the great hits away from football, they have also added a new rule: Challenging a Pass Interference Call.

What is the Red Challenge Flag?

If you are new to football, you may have never seen the famous red challenge flag (as seen above), so you might need a little background on it. The rules of the challenge flag in the past were simple: to challenge the spot of the ball. Maybe it's to determine if the catch was made inbounds, if the runner crossed the goal-line, or if the QB sneak was enough for the first down. In 2019, however, the NFL decided to spruce it up a bit. They are now allowing coaches to challenge pass interference plays. The problem with this? Let me just point out a few:

  • Pass interference calls are either ignored completely or called unnecessarily
  • The games are dragged out with all of the challenges and replays
  • Teams lose timeouts when challenges are not correct

I am seeing absolutely dreadful calls on pass interference now because of this new rule. It's like the refs know that the coaches have a challenge flag so they are giving too much leeway, but in other cases, calling the most ticky-tacky flags. Why would they do this? Because they know the coaches can just throw out their challenge flags! These calls can surely change the outcome of the game and when a sporting event seems 100% reliable on the calls of the refs, it kind of takes the fun out of watching, right?

Should We Still Support the NFL?

Now, do I still love the NFL? Of course. Will I continue to watch every game I possibly can? Absolutely. I don't think we need to boycott or do anything irrational here, I just hope they hear our voices and our concerns, and bring the NFL back to the wonderful game it is.

I am hoping for this change to come with the 2020 season next year. I have heard nothing but complaints on the officiating this year, and most of that is caused from the new rule on challenging a pass interference call. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that something will change for the better.

Although I am unable to make the pass interference challenge go away, I hope this helped you understand what it is and settled any confusion you nay have had on the topic.


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