ATLANTA (Reuters) - The National Football League (NFL) will consider rule changes aimed at avoiding the type of officiating gaffe that likely cost the New Orleans Saints a spot in the Super Bowl but Commissioner Roger Goodell warned on Wednesday there are no easy fixes.
Speaking at his annual state of the league address ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams, Goodell acknowledged publicly for the first time that a mistake had been made and that he understands the frustration felt by the Saints.
“It’s a play that should be called and we are going to make sure we do everything possible to address the issues going forward,” said Goodell.
“Whenever officiating is part of any kind of discussion postgame, it’s never a good outcome for us. But we also know our officials are human.
“We also know that they are officiating a game that moves very quickly and have to make snap decisions under difficult circumstances and they are not going to get it right every time.”
Late in the NFC Championship game between the Saints and visiting Rams, referees missed a seemingly blatant pass interference penalty that if called would have allowed New Orleans a chance to run down the clock and kick a go-ahead field goal with about 25 seconds left in regulation.
Goodell said the competition committee will look at a number of ways of eliminating such controversies, including expanding video replay to judgment calls.
He added that any fix could open up a Pandora’s box of new problems.
“I think the competition committee will definitely consider this (video replay),” said Goodell. “The competition committee is not just considering the solution but (also) ... the unintended consequences to that solution.”
NFL coaches are currently allowed to challenge a referee’s decision but they cannot query judgment calls on either penalties or uncalled penalties.
Goodell said the league has worked hard for years to bring technology in to help with officiating but stressed that while it will not solve every contentious issue, it has to continue down that path.
“We will look again at instant replay. It does not cover judgment calls, this was a judgment call,” said Goodell.
“The other complication is that it was a no-call and there has not been support to date about having a replay official or somebody in New York throw a (penalty) flag when there is no flag.
“They have not voted for that in the past. It doesn’t mean that we won’t, it’s something that we are going to put to the competition committee and see if there is an answer to that.”
Goodell also down played the idea of adding more officials, noting that might only add problems and not reduce them.
“I don’t think adding an official is an answer to all the issues, particularly this issue,” said Goodell.
“Adding an eighth official is one more human, one more human that will make mistakes like all the rest of us.”
Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Toby Davis