FOOTBALL PLAYOFF GAME TODAY: WILL THE REFEREES PERMIT PASS INTERFERENCE FOULS ON ALMOST EVERY PLAY? I am posting this shortly after midnight on January 11. At 4:35 Eastern time this afternoon, the Seattle Seahawks will oppose the New Orleans Saints in a playoff game. In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (January 10), Kevin Clark and Jonathan Clegg wrote an article which claims that: Seattle’s defensive players “defenders mug, obstruct and foul opposing receivers on practically every play.” The article claims that Seattle has a deliberate strategy of committing pass interference on almost every play because “NFL referees are reluctant to throw endless flags for pass interference and defensive holding….” (Pass interference penalties are rarely imposed. For comparison, only nine teams since 2001 have had seasons where they were penalized for pass interference as much as one and a half times a game.)
The article carries weight because Mike Pereira, a former National Football League vice president of officiating, supports its theses. He says about Seattle: “They look at it and say ‘We may get called for one but not for 10.'” He also says that Seattle “tests” officials by committing obvious penalties early in a game to see how officials will react. Clark and Clegg also cite Kevin Gilbride, a former offensive coordinator for the opinion that Seattle pass interference “happens on nearly every play”.
It’s a highly unusual article, and I’m curious to see what, if any, consequences follow.