Lurie provides voice of reason as NFL approves replay expansion

Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie addressed the audience of owners, general managers, and front-office executives on Tuesday at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix.

Lurie intended to help persuade the clubs to work together on coming up with a way to expand the instant replay system. He's been a staunch supporter of it for years and has always backed other teams' proposals, including when Patriots head coach Bill Belichick called for all plays to be reviewable.

"For me personally, what it really relates to is the integrity of the game," Lurie said. "You're asking people to devote their heart and soul, you're asking your players, your coaches and your fans to devote – and ourselves, our heart and soul to it. ... And if you're asking people to deliver their emotions to the product that you're presenting, then you owe it to everybody that you're presenting it to be as accurate as humanly possible. And that's – it just has to be that way, and I hope we can continue to do that."

After hours of negotiations, the clubs approved for instant replay to be expanded in 2019 to include offensive and defensive pass interference penalties as well as non-calls. In the wake of the NFC Championship Game, where a blatant pass interference call was missed in the fourth quarter that helped the Los Angeles Rams prevail over the New Orleans Saints in overtime, Lurie reiterated numerous times throughout his nearly 38-minute press conference the importance of preserving the integrity of the game.

"To have a key game, whether it's a playoff game or just any game during the regular season come down to a human mistake – the referees are doing the best they can. They're not going to be perfect. None of us are, how they should be? You need a backup system. The technology is there, and it's about time," Lurie said.

"The largest plays in the game that are difference-makers typically are defensive pass interference and offensive pass interference. There's others, as well. But those two are incredibly important, and we've never been able to challenge those. We've never been able to have a system where in the final minutes of a game or a half they were automatically potentially changed or studied."

The Eagles specifically proposed that if a scoring play is going to be negated by a penalty then the NFL would be required to confirm the scoring play before the team decides to accept or decline it. Previously, the team would have to choose what to do regarding the penalty first before it is known whether or not it was a scoring play. Rich McKay, the chairman of the NFL's Competition Committee, called it a "good catch" by Philadelphia.

Lurie noted that the Dallas Goedert touchdown against Dallas that was taken off the board due to an offensive pass interference call last season would now likely be overturned under the new rule. 

The Eagles were also one of the teams that wanted player safety-related fouls to also be subject to coaches' challenges, but that was not part of the approved resolution.

"As somebody said to me, I know you didn't get that, but you got to walk before you can run, and we'll be at it, pushing that for next season," Lurie said. "But this was a start, and I think a really, really good start."

Exposing Dallas' unfair advantage

The Eagles withdrew a proposal that would have ended Dallas and Detroit earning a home Thursday game every Thanksgiving. It had nothing to do with the holiday, but the fact that a division rival was guaranteed a home game on a short week each season. Lurie said that there was not going to be enough support for it to pass.

"It was meant really to start to analyze the impact of away Thursday short-week games, and should that be spread evenly," Lurie said. "It was just a manner of doing that. It wasn't focused on the teams that were involved, it was – we do a lot of data analysis of schedules and things like that and short weeks because you're going to try to prepare and recover and all those kind of things, and one of the things that came up was the difficulty sometimes of short weeks on Thursdays away."

Lurie not a fan of overtime system

After not receiving the ball in overtime of the AFC Championship Game before losing to New England, Kansas City proposed that both teams – regardless of what the first team does with the ball – get at least one possession in overtime.

Lurie is not a fan of the current structure, especially in the regular season.

"I would like to change overtime. We talked a lot to the Competition Committee about changing overtime. There's a lot of ways to do it," he said.

"Personally, I don't like the shortened overtime in the regular season because I think it gives even more value to the winner of the coin toss. So, if you get the ball first and you have a seven-minute drive or nine-minute drive, that's taking up 70 percent of the time period of regular-season overtime now. It makes no sense to me."

Lurie has some outside-the-box ways of how overtime can be improved.

"I think another possibility is to try to avoid the coin toss and have other mechanisms. One of the things I floated was to – the team that scores the most touchdowns has the advantage of getting the ball first. Often, it'll be a tie, but those times when you score more touchdowns, reward that. Just you want to avoid a coin toss as best you can, I think."

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