“Here I was, part of the group that put replay together, and now I’m on the other side of the coin and I would almost like to dismantle the whole damn thing,” Pereira said. “Because it’s made the game a different game, and I’m not sure that I didn’t like it better before we had it.”
Pereira called it a “tough year” for NFL officials, who have drawn widespread criticism week after week with penalties increasing, questionable roughing-the-passer penalties affecting a handful of games in key moments and the implementation of pass interference review on a one-year trial basis perplexing players, coaches and fans alike.
Asked if it was fair to characterize himself as “despondent” over the state of officiating, Pereira replied “more than fair.”
It’s the pass interference review that Pereira sees as one of the biggest issues.
“Not only has it affected officiating, but it has affected everybody watching the game because everybody’s flummoxed by it,” Pereira said. “And I understand that. I’m frustrated with it also. It’s typical of the league, and I was guilty back in my day — you overreact to one play and you put in a new rule without really understanding what the unintended consequences are. That’s what has happened here. It makes no sense to anybody — and that includes me — that you basically have two standards when it comes to pass interference, whether it’s offense or defense. It’s the standard on the field the way the officials call it and then it’s the standard in New York and how New York calls.”
Pereira doesn’t believe the pass interference replay review will exist next season — certainly not in its current form.
“No,” he said. “And let’s remember it’s a one-year rule. In order to get it back, you have to get 24 positive votes just to get it back. Because it’s gone once the last play of the Super Bowl is done — the rule is gone. It’s no longer in the books. So they have to pass it again. May it come back in a different state? Maybe. But in the way it’s being adjudicated now, it can’t come back. It absolutely can not come back.”
Pereira also expressed empathy for the officials, reminding that, “The game is so fast.” He used to be an official for 14 seasons at the college football level and for two seasons in the NFL before being promoted into an executive role with the league.
Pereira notably defended officials by taking aim at Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who after a loss to the Seahawks on Sunday said the officiating was “pretty bad.”
“I hate that they just get abused,” Pereira said. “They’re out there doing the best job that they can and a job that’s basically impossible to be perfect in. Players fumble the ball. Quarterbacks throw interceptions. Baker Mayfield says after the game, ‘The refs were bad. I’ll probably get fined for this, but they were bad.’ Now Baker, you threw three picks. The Browns turned the ball over four times. Can you accept some responsibility here? Why do we have to always seem to pin this on the referees or the league? It bothers me.”