Mike Pereira is almost as recognizable to NFL fans as head coaches.
As the football rules analyst for FOX the past 11 years, the former head of the NFL’s officiating department is a football fan’s best friend. He anticipates penalties. He explains to them when they’re called. And he deciphers NFL the rule book so precisely that we understand it.
(EDITOR’S NOTE; To access the interview with Mike Pereira fast-forward to 37:52)
So when Mike Pereira speaks, we listen. And he said something on this week’s “Eye Test for Two” podcast that was astounding. It happened when he was asked what rules change he might make if he were commissioner for a day, and, patience, people. He waits before dropping the bombshell.
“My number-one answer,” he said, “has always been the pass-interference penalty to make it a maximum 15-yard penalty. Because I sat through too many plays in New York where I was grading video, and I was the head of the department and I’d see a 45-yard pass-interference call against the defense. And I’d look at it, and it’s wrong. And so it becomes a 45-yard mistake.
“It’s also, without question, the hardest call on the field to make because everybody’s moving. Everybody’s moving: The ball. The defender. The offensive player. Is it catchable? Is it not? You’re moving, and I think it puts so much pressure on the officials because they know it’s a 40-yard penalty.
“So I would’ve said that.”
OK, so that’s not astounding. Pereira frequently has been quoted as favoring the college rule for pass interference. So nothing new there … until he continued. And that’s where he broke new ground.
“As I transition a little bit more to the fan,” he said, “I almost hate that we brought instant replay back into the game in 1999. I really do. We all know (Hall-of-Fame GM) George Young, and he knew what was going to happen. In 1999 when we brought it in he was the head of (the NFL’s) football operations. On his instant-replay manila folder instead of on the tab writing “Instant Replay,” he wrote in big letters across the front: ‘The Monster Grows.’
“And he’s right.
“We’re now looking to see if the ball is an inch short of the goal line when it’s ruled a touchdown, and we sit there and decipher that and decipher that … when no one in the world would’ve ever thought about stopping it to look at it. I mean, it would’ve gone on as a touchdown. And so it’s gone from correcting the obvious error to looking at an inch difference at the goal line or the line to gain.
“So I think it’s outgrown what its intent was. To me, I just would love to just get rid of it for a year and see what it looks like. Of course, I’d be out of a job probably. But I’m near the end anyway. So, for the good of the game, I’d say that’s something I’d greatly consider.”