NFL committee to decide whether to tweak interference rule

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — NFL owners gave the competition committee the go-ahead Wednesday to decide whether to refine the new rule allowing replay challenges involving pass interference.

The proposed tweak would take the decision on whether to review in the final two minutes of each half out of the hands of the officials. Reviews in the final two minutes would instead require a coach’s challenge.

Owners voted to hold the NFL draft in Cleveland in 2021, the 75th anniversary of the Browns, and in Kansas City in 2023. The league said it delayed choosing a site for 2022 because about 20 cities are interested in hosting that year.

Regarding pass interference, the league fears too many stoppages of play in the closing minutes if those reviews are left up to the officials. A decision on whether to require a coach’s challenge in the final two minutes will come after the competition committee consults with coaches next month.

Owners voted in March to allow pass interference calls or non-calls to be challenged by coaches and reviewed via replay as a one-year experiment. Under the rule adopted then, in the final two minutes only officials in the booth can stop the game for reviews involving pass interference, as is the case with other reviewable plays.

The competition committee may also exempt Hail Mary passes so they’re not reviewable. That change would require coming up with a formal definition of a Hail Mary.

“We really don’t want our games to end on a review,” said Atlanta Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay, a member of the committee.

A proposed rule change requiring each team to have one possession in overtime was tabled for lack of support. The change was pushed by the Chiefs, who lost last season’s AFC championship game without getting the ball in overtime because the Patriots won the toss, received the kickoff and scored a touchdown.

There’s some support among owners to change the overtime rule in the postseason only, football operations chief Troy Vincent said. The league is expected to revisit the subject next year.

The 2021 draft is the latest major sports event landed by Cleveland.

“It’s a big, big deal for our area, one of the founding areas of the NFL,” Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said.

Cleveland will also host this year’s MLB All-Star Game, the 2022 NBA All-Star Game and the 2024 NCAA Women’s Final Four.

Las Vegas hosts next year’s NFL draft.

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