How to prevent another Rams-Saints nightmare? Mike Pereira has an answer

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Former NFL officiating boss Mike Pereira has an idea to prevent another Rams-Saints debacle. The NFL should listen.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: To access the Mike Pereira interview go to 12:45 of the attached interview)

Like everyone else, former NFL officiating boss Mike Pereira was appalled by the failure to flag a blatant pass interference in the Rams’ overtime defeat of New Orleans in last weekend's NFC championship game. But, unlike a lot of people, he doesn’t think anyone should be fired, doesn’t think the league owes us a public apology and has a remedy to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“This will live with these officials forever,” said Pereira, now the FOX rules analyst, on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “I just think they got dragged down by a sub-conscious feeling of, ‘You don’t want to be a part of the story.’ And maybe in the playoffs … even they’re not told, ‘Let’s not be technical; let’s get the big ones’ … they got a little too comfy in the La-Z-Boy chair. And when the big play came, they didn’t react.

“And that’s a shame. Because it wasn’t one of those bang-bang ones that you can understand how they would miss it. This is one that three guys looked at and decided not to throw (a flag). So complacency may have set in, and it sure reared its ugly head …”

Louisiana attorney Frank D’Amico Jr. filed a lawsuit vs. the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell over the missed call. New Orleans tight end Benjamin Watson called out Goodell over his silence, saying it was “unbecoming of the position you hold, detrimental to the integrity of the game and disrespectful and dismissive to football fans everywhere.” And over 720,000 irate New Orleans fans signed a petition demanding that the NFL replay the game.

Basically, it’s the league’s worst nightmare come true.

“A lot of introspection has to be going on,” said Pereira. “But it happened. And you cannot go back and correct it. Lawsuits are not going to be heard. Commissioner Goodell is not going to overturn it. So now the most significant question is: What do we do going forward?”

Good question. So what does the NFL do?

Pereira has an idea, and purists won’t like it. He wants to make personal fouls, pass-interference calls and obvious gaffes like the one that happened in New Orleans subject to replay review – with an eighth official added to a crew to make that determination.

That way the decision should be made quickly, and it would be made by the officiating crew on site.

“People are talking now about, ‘Should the league put out a public apology or a public statement,’ " Pereira said. “Heck, it’s already out there. I mean, everybody knows. The 70,000 people that were in New Orleans knew when it happened. So I don’t know what’s to be gained by making a public statement.

“I’m more interested to see if the league will just kinda dissect this thing and get rid of some of the tradition and some of the things that are always said (like), ‘You can’t make pass interference reviewable.’

“Well, you can make pass interference reviewable. Let’s get over this ‘we can’t, we can’t, we can’t.’ I’ve said all day long that technology has improved at a much greater pace than officiating. That’s just the facts. Is it time to open up the door just a little bit more and let technology get a little bit more involved because you cannot have this mistake again?

“I don’t necessarily want to overreact to one mistake, but there were a lot of mistakes during the course of the season which I think could be easily fixed. I’m sitting in my chair right now, and I’ve been working through it all last night and all today for the eighth official. Add him.

“He’s not a replay official. He’s called a sky judge. He’s in a booth with replay equipment. He can take an immediate look at a play as soon as it’s over, and if he sees on TV that they’ve got the angle and definitely the call should’ve been made or shouldn’t have been made he can talk immediately to the referee.

“It will take 15 seconds. You could’ve corrected that missed pass-interference call in 15 seconds. To me, I think it’s time to use technology to change things and to correct things in real time … not in three-minute reviews.

“Let that go the way it is with turnovers and scoring plays. But take the personal fouls and the pass-interference calls and the obvious misses and correct them. You could do it quickly with a member of the crew. It’s done on site, not in New York. That’s where I’m leaning now."