After complaining about pass interference call, Sean Payton wants replay change targeting Al Riveron

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Sean Payton is calling for more change to the NFL’s pass interference policy.

After a no-call late in Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers was ruled pass interference against the Saints upon review, the New Orleans head coach wants to take the power solely out of Al Riveron’s hands and place it with a committee.

In the play in question, the Panthers found themselves in first-and-goal instead of fourth down in the final minutes of the game as it was tied at 31. Carolina didn’t capitalize, failing to score a touchdown in three plays before kicker Joey Slye missed a 28-yard field goal.

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The Saints responded with a field goal of their own as time ran out for a 34-31 victory.

But the close call was enough for Payton — whose team was famously burned by last season’s blown pass interference non-call in the NFC championship game — to challenge Riveron’s singular authority as the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating to oversee pass interference replays.

Payton calls for committee, not Riveron, to oversee replays

Instead, he’d like to see a three-person committee oversee replay reviews. He just doesn’t want to call it a committee.

“You know, we don't have one Supreme Court justice,” Payton told reporters on a Monday teleconference, per ESPN. “It doesn't have to be a committee. I don't like committees. I just think it's quiet when it's singular.”

Payton pointed to CFL and college replay policies as examples, per the Saints website, which posted an article laying out Payton’s case for more pass interference overhaul.

“And so, I think when you look around at college and the CFL, you see a triangle of experts,” Payton said. “You’re going to find a more consistent [decision], and you have the ability to reference prior calls. ... I think it merits three experts. I think it’ll help immensely.”

Payton says he doesn’t have beef with Riveron

And after laying out his case to dilute Riveron’s power over replay decisions, Payton wanted to make sure he didn’t actually have a problem with Riveron.

“And Al’s outstanding,” Payton said. “I think he’s got a tough job and I think when you have a group of three, I think you’re going to arrive at more consistent calls.”

Sunday's controversy ensured that the Saints pass interference torch will continue to burn. (Chuck Cook-USA Today Sports)
Sunday's controversy ensured that the Saints pass interference torch will continue to burn. (Chuck Cook-USA Today Sports)

Riveron’s explanation

Payton certainly wouldn’t the first to have a problem with Riveron. His tweets on Sundays explaining the reasoning behind disputed calls are a regular source of angst for fans and teams. Pass interference has been a consistent subject of ire this year since the league made the penalty eligible for replay review.

Riveron explained the reasoning for Sunday’s overturned call, telling a pool reporter “it was clear and obvious through visual evidence that the defender significantly hinders the receiver while the ball is in the air.”

Obvious evidence is usually ignored

That’s fine, except obvious cases of pass interference are regularly ignored upon replay review, raising questions as to why the rule exists in the first place. And when the Saints got tagged with a rare overturned interference call, Payton was upset.

Especially considering that the missed pass interference that cost the Saints a chance at last season’s Super Bowl was the impetus for the rule change — a change Payton helped usher in as a member of the league’s competition committee.

“It wasn’t our best game,” Payton told reporters on Sunday. “It wasn’t their best game, and quite honestly, it wasn’t New York’s best game.

New York, in this case, is a reference to the NFL’s officiating headquarters.

The Saints and their fanbase have held strong to their anger over last year’s NFC championship game.

Sunday’s pass interference call ensured the torch will continue to burn.

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