When NFL owners have their virtual league meeting on Thursday, they’ll be voting on some proposed rule changes for the 2020 season. We’ve already talked about one of them: the rule proposed by the Philadelphia Eagles that would give teams an option to try to retain possession by executing an untimed fourth-and-15 play from their own 25-yard line, rather than attempting an onside kick.
But the owners will also be voting on another rule. This one — proposed by the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers — one would create a so-called sky judge (which the rule calls a “booth umpire”) to assist the on-field officials. And according to a fascinating Sports Illustrated MMQB article published by Albert Breer on Thursday morning, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has been a behind-the-scenes player in getting this proposed rule on the table.
Over the last couple years, the coaches subcommittee took it upon itself to do the work, with Ravens coach John Harbaugh running point, ex-Cowboys coach Jason Garrett helping last year, [Chargers head coach Anthony] Lynn helping this year, and Chiefs coach Andy Reid playing a significant role throughout. The thought, for a lot of coaches, was that last year’s pass interference review rules were another step toward the implementation of the SkyJudge, as was the AAF incorporating a version of that sort of official in its lone season of 2019.
Breer said that Reid even brought up a questionable play that might have gone against his own team if the proposed rule had been in place.
And while the officials’ miss in the Saints-Rams NFC title game in January 2019 may have been what ignited a lot of this discussion, it was hardly the only example of what everyone saw as needing to be fixed. In fact, Reid, at one point, actually raised a call that went his way—in which Patriots rookie WR N’Keal Harry was called out of bounds on a play that should’ve been a touchdown in a December Kansas City win. There were others too, and all were motivation to stay on task, with a plan coalescing ahead of that meeting at the 2020 combine.
As you’ll remember, Patriots fans were very much up in arms that Harry had not been credited with a touchdown on this fourth-quarter play in last season’s Week 14 matchup — and at the time, the Patriots could do nothing; they were out of challenges. The Patriots had to settle for a field goal with just under 12 minutes remaining in the game — which the Chiefs ended up winning 23-16. If the call had gone the other way (and the Patriots then managed a two-point conversion) they could have been in a position to tie the contest with a field goal at just over than a minute remaining — rather than the fourth-down desperation pass to the end zone that completed their final drive.
And yet... the head coach of the team that benefited from the questionable call — which helped his team reach (and win) its first Super Bowl in 50 years — was willing to point out the play as a problem that needs to be addressed.
This should tell you a lot — not only about Reid’s love of the sport, but also about his character as a human being.