John Mara is changing his mind on the use of video replay on pass interference calls, and the NFL may be following close behind him.
The Giants' president and CEO and influential member of the league's competition committee said on WFAN that he has always been opposed to allowing coaches to challenge pass interference calls. "But I have to tell you," he said in the wake of a controversial one that was not called in the Lions-Cowboys wild-card game, "I'm starting to think a little bit differently about it."
Mara, later said on ESPN Radio that the league will have discussions about the "Calvin Johnson Rule," which changed what was initially ruled a key reception by Dez Bryant in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's divisional game into a drive-ending incompletion.
Mara said the possibility will be looked at by the committee this offseason. "I know that's something we're going to discuss at the competition committee starting in February and I'm looking forward to that because I think the time has come maybe to not only have that discussion and that debate but to really think about changing that rule," Mara said of the pass interference and replay situation. "Instant replay was implemented to correct the major calls in a game and to get the big call right. Well, there are not too many calls in the NFL that are any bigger than defensive pass interference."
In the Lions-Cowboys game, officials first called pass interference against Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens, which would have given the Lions a crucial first down, and then picked up the flag. The Cowboys got the ball back and drove for the winning touchdown.
The NFL conceded later that the flag should have been applied and that defensive holding had also occurred (and gone uncalled) on the play. That is opposite the Bryant ruling, which the NFL insists was called according to the rules in place. Whether that rule is a good one is the bigger debate.
"I really think we need to discuss that again," Mara said on ESPN Radio.
Last year Patriots coach Bill Belichick recommended that all plays and rulings be reviewable.
"That might be a little bit aggressive, but it certainly could get expanded beyond just the pass interference,"Mara said. "We'll have that discussion in February and March. I'm sure there will be some proposal that the owners will vote on [at the league meetings] in March. You have to keep in mind that it takes 24 votes to get anything accomplished in the NFL. That sometimes is a tough task. But I would not be surprised if we added to the scope of reviewable plays next year."