PHOENIX – For all the talk about the Saints and the Rams, the Cowboys had their say in the great replay debate.
To be more specific, Jason Garrett had a say – and he was quite convincing.
On a day that saw the NFL's competition committee vote to expand instant replay, the word coming out of the meeting room is that the Cowboys' head coach made an impassioned plea to get the rule right.
"He was outstanding," said Saints coach Sean Payton. "He finished and I was like 'Dilly Dilly!"
That plea didn't fall on deaf ears, as the NFL voted Tuesday to expand its replay system. Starting in 2019, teams will be able to challenged called – and uncalled – defensive and offensive pass interference penalties during the course of a game. Inside of the two-minute warning, those situations will be subject to booth review.
With a unanimous vote of 32-0 in favor of the rule, it was obvious that the league's coaches had a hand in the ruling – whether it was Payton, Garrett or otherwise.
"They were very passionate. They met throughout the week, and they had an influence – as they should," said Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones.
Payton is going to go down as the face of this rule change after what happened in January's NFC Championship Game. A blatant defensive pass interference call was missed by officials, forcing New Orleans to kick a go-ahead field goal with 1:41 to play, rather than run the clock down. When they ultimately lost the game in overtime, it sparked a nationwide outcry about deficiencies in the way games are officiated.
"Here we had a great football game, an epic football game. Everybody enjoyed it," Jones said. "But when it's over, rather than talk about how great the game was, everybody was talking about if the wrong team was in the Super Bowl or not and the call. You don't want that to be the focus of the storyline of a great football game."
That was more or less the gist of Garrett's speech to NFL ownership, according to Jones. As one of the 32 men tasked with delivering wins in a hyper-competitive league, it makes sense that Garrett would feel passionately about the subject. After all, it was just four years ago that a questionable call swung a playoff game for him. In the 2014 NFC divisional playoffs, a 31-yard, fourth down completion to Dez Bryant was reviewed and deemed to be incomplete – a decision that has since been deemed to be incorrect by the league in a previous rule change. That call turned a 1st-and-goal Cowboys possession into a turnover on downs, effectively sealing the win for Green Bay.
Obviously, the two situations aren't exactly alike, but it's easy to understand the desire to get things right. To be clear, Garrett wasn't the only person to vocalize his support for the change, but he was obviously effective.
"Jason has always done a great job of being able to verbalize what a lot of people feel," Jones said. "I think he certainly did a great job, at the end of the day, summing up what a lot of coaches feel and what a lot of our membership feels. I think it was well done on his part."
The hope now is that the league, spurred by its coaches, is doing exactly that.