NFL Instant Replay: Reviewing the rule is harder than reviewing the play


Time was spent at the league meetings this past week implementing a system of centralized control over instant replay in the NFL. Some say they're going too far even though it's obvious they aren't going far enough.

Tribune-Review reporter Alan Robinson penned an interesting feature in Sunday's edition highlighting the challenges behind the NFL's proposal to expand replay to a realistic level.

And it makes sense. Robinson quoted Rams head coach and Competition Committee member Jeff Fisher, "With technology changing, the fact that the membership agreed to allow Dean Blandino (the NFL vice president of officiating) and his group to oversee and consult with officials is a major step. We are constantly evaluating our replay system because we all want to get things right."

Do you? Jeff? Expanding the amount of people looking at a play and involving consultants within the league only seems like a half measure - one that's still subjected to the same nonsense associated with what can be reviewed and what can't be.

Ravens coach and Competition Committee member John Harbaugh is one of the minority voices pushing for expansion of what can be reviewed.

Robinson quoted him as saying, "When the fans have a better view of the game (on TV) than the referee does, it's time to put the referee in the same playing field as the fans."

And when the fans see something that obviously either violates or confirms a rule of the game, the call should be based on that. It's silly to only go under the hood to review certain portions of it, and those things being subject only to set list of occurrences.

This is particularly asinine when the argument in favor of keeping the list of reviewable plays small is solely based around the length of the game. Sure, no one wants to watch more commercials or locked shots of the officials inside a camera hood, but I highly doubt anyone wants to watch a repeat of the fiasco in Green Bay, either. Which is more important? Integrity of the game, or intentional efforts to label efforts to make the right call as time-wasting?

Essentially, replays will be viewed by Blandino and his crew in New York. Coaches fear officials won't want to override their boss while the league insists officials on the field will make the final call. Even if the league currently sees roughly one out of four challenges resulting in overturning a call on the field, it seems there's plenty of evidence to suggest the officials on the field are missing calls anyway, so what exactly is the problem with a group that isn't on the field stepping in? When you're missing something 25 percent of the time (that you admit, and that figure doesn't bring in upheld rulings after challenge that shouldn't have been made), you can't possibly expect to be given the benefit of the doubt.

And officials, for as outstanding of a job they do the vast majority of the time, the massive amount of rules the NFL has implemented created an impossible job for them. They need help, but not because they're incompetent. They need help because they're physically incapable of doing what the league requires them to do.

Efforts to help them in that regard being shot down because the game may run 10 minutes longer than expected is simply ridiculous.

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