TORONTO -- Pass interference should be subject to video review during the upcoming Canadian Football League season, according to the league’s rules committee.
Under a proposal approved by the committee this evening, coaches would be allowed to challenge both called and potential defensive pass interference fouls under certain conditions.
Still subject to final approval by the league’s Board of Governors, the move would make the CFL the first football league to subject this penalty to video review.
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“Pass interference is one of the toughest calls to make,” said Glen Johnson, the CFL’s Vice-President of Officiating who spent 24 years as an on field official. “This gives us a second opportunity to get it right on a penalty that can have a great impact on a game.”
Under the proposal, a team would be able use any of its two (three if first two are successful) Coaches' Challenges to challenge a called or potential pass interference foul up to the final three minutes of a game. In the final three minutes of a game, and overtime, a team could only challenge such a call or non-call one time, and only if it still has an unused challenge and a timeout remaining.
A coach must challenge to trigger a video review of a pass interference call or a potential pass interference call. They will not be subject to automatic review.
An unsuccessful challenge of a potential pass interference foul in the final three minutes will result in the loss of a time out. An unsuccessful challenge of an actual pass interference call in the final minutes will not result in the loss of a time out.
The Committee also voted in favour of expanding the role of the Command Centre to automatically review specific turnovers of fumbles lost and interceptions and detect illegal participation during a play (when a player returns to the field after voluntarily leaving it).
It approved a number of changes designed to further protect the health and safety of CFL players:
• Eliminating low blocks below the waist, other than those delivered to the front plane of a player, in all areas of the field except in the area between the tackles and two yards on either side of the line of scrimmage.
• Outlawing peel back blocks, which occur when a play changes direction in the backfield, forcing the defender to modify his pursuit, making him susceptible to blind low blocks executed by an offensive player moving toward his own end zone.
• Clarifying the rules that make it illegal to "deliver a blow" to an opponent’s neck or head, a standard already followed by officials but not yet codified in the rule book.
• Requiring an injured player to leave the field for three plays regardless of whether a penalty was called on the action leading to the injury (players currently have the option to stay in the game if a penalty was called on the play).
Other approved changes promote scoring and improve the flow of the game:
• Allowing quarterbacks for each team to use their own team supplied Wilson footballs, provided they have met the "new ball" quality standard established by the league.
• Allowing centres to bob their heads multiple times in an effort to signal timing of the snap of the ball (to be used by visiting teams coping with noise in stadium).
• Allowing offences to further dictate the pace of play by no longer requiring the Head Referee to hold the 20 second clock for the defence to substitute, if the offence chooses not to substitute.
The CFL Rules Committee also approved the league’s Competition Committee some proposed editorial changes to statistical scoring procedures, including one which would make blocked field goals count as missed field goals for the purpose of record keeping.
The committee is made up of a combination of club presidents, head coaches, general managers and representatives from the officials' association and the players' association.
All of its recommendations must be approved the league’s Board of Governors, which meets later this Spring, before they go into effect.
The Committee met here tonight as CFL coaches, GMs and scouts gathered for the CFL Combine presented by Reebok. It showcases top Canadian prospects for the CFL Canadian Draft, scheduled for May 13.
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