Pass interference debate rages

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:22 PM ET

The never-ending debate that is pass interference oozed to the forefront during a couple of Canadian Football League games last weekend.

Officials missed an obvious penalty on Argos slotback Jeremaine Copeland during a game against the Edmonton Eskimos, and there were a few non-calls in other games that led to some head-scratching.

But whether calls are whistled or missed, it’s an issue that always will be discussed. Like dishonest politicians and high taxes, pass interference and the strong feelings it sprouts are a fact of life.

“It’s really simple — it’s never as bad and it’s never as good,” CFL director of officiating Tom Higgins said on Thursday. “It’s a work in progress for us. (We tell our referees), do your job to the best of your abilities and we will help you. It could be worse.”

Argos head coach Jim Barker said he doesn’t necessarily see a grey area in what should be called and what is not. Though there’s always room for nitpicking, on the whole, Barker has been comfortable with the officiating as it pertains to pass interference this season.

“It’s such a subjective thing,” Barker said. “And I think the more you put into writing (in the rulebook), the more issues you will have with it.

“If there is contact on a guy from the side, that is illegal contact. If you pull or hold on him when he is running a route, that is pass interference. It’s always a tough call.”

And interference when viewed on TV, especially with slow-motion replays, might appear to be obvious. But when Higgins evaluates the job his officials do, he takes other factors into consideration.

“The biggest challenge is when you have five officials to cover six receivers and eight or nine defensive players,” Higgins said. “We have to make sure we are in the best possible position to see the play from start to finish, and then throw the flag if you are confident in your decision. Some flags don’t get thrown because they don’t have a clear view.”

One player who doesn’t have a problem with pass interference is Argos corner Byron Parker. In his memory, he has been called just once for the foul, a few years ago during a game against the B.C. Lions.

“Geroy Simon went down the seam, I went up for the ball and got a flag,” said Parker, one of the best at walking the line between making interceptions and interfering with receivers.

“But, you know, sometimes it is good to take a penalty. It’s not the same as a touchdown. I would rather take 15 yards than have them put seven points on the board.”


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