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Might as well call the new pass interference rule change the ‘Jason Garrett rule’

Seems like it was the Cowboys coach who made the rule happen.

NFL: Pro Bowl Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

When new rules are introduced in the NFL, many times they are associated with a particular player who brought about the change. You can find a long history of rules named after players here, and you can find one about rules associated with Cowboys players here. A couple of the more famous “Cowboys rules” are the Emmitt Smith rule, which keeps helmets on player’s heads while on the field, and the Roy Williams rule, which outlawed the horse-collar tackle.

The NFL recently introduced a huge change in the rules when they allowed the challenge of pass interference calls/no-calls, inspired by the calamity of the playoff game between the Rams and the Saints. Here’s the play as a reminder.

We could dub this rule the Nickell Robey-Coleman rule, as he was the defender that so blatantly interfered with the pass to TommyLee Lewis. That’s generally how it works, the player who does something so notable that the rules are changed gets the notoriety for it.

This time, though, maybe it should be called the Jason Garrett rule since it seems like he was the pivotal figure in getting the rule passed even though he had nothing to do with the actual play. It’s been noted ever since the rule came about that Garrett played a role in making it happen. But a new article from Peter King details the process and makes Garrett’s role the fulcrum around which the process moved forward.

First, the set-up pre-Garrett:

Forty-eight hours earlier, asked for a show of hands for how many teams favored allowing replays of uncalled interference plays, fewer than 10 hands were raised. And now, a 31-1 vote to approve. Pretty big upset, in other words.

Apparently, Garrett’s speech was the thing that changed minds.

“Let’s hear from everyone who has something to say,” Competition Committee chair Rich McKay said to open a full league meeting Tuesday morning. Dallas coach Jason Garrett, a member of the coaches subcommittee of the Competition Committee (and a Princeton grad), had something to get off his chest. He spoke for about four minutes, and when he was finished, the room gave him a loud ovation. One top club official told me that in more than a decade at these meetings, he’d never heard such a reception for a speech. I found Garrett late Tuesday and asked him what he’d said.

“I talked about the credibility of the game and the focus of the game,” Garrett said. “And what resonated with me after the two Championship Games was this: The four teams playing at the end of January, the best teams in our game, play overtime games. Fantastic football games. And what is America talking about? Officiating.

“The two best teams in the NFC play this unbelievable game. Great coaches, great players. A Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees, and so no one is even talking about the game and all of those elements after the game. They’re talking about one thing: the call that was missed. And so for me, the idea of somehow finding a way within the structure that already exists to be able to rectify that play, that egregious mistake, is paramount. If we all put our heads together, we can solve this situation. As we go forward, we can clean this up so that this isn’t the focal point of everybody at the end of this unbelievable game. It goes to the credibility of the game and the integrity of the game.”

“A pivotal moment,” said this top club official. “I think when people heard it in such a convincing and simplistic way, even those who were really opposed to reviewing plays that hadn’t been flagged started to think we needed to do something about it.”

This club official, by the way, had been opposed to being able to review non-called interference plays.

It would be great if someday audio or video came out showing Garrett’s speech. All we have to go by are the words of people who were there, and they firmly believe that it was Garrett who made the rule happen. While it might not catch on, we’ll go ahead and call this one the “Jason Garrett rule.”

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