3 Missed Opportunities for Instant Replay in Sports

Al Bello/Getty Images
Al Bello/Getty Images

It’s impossible to imagine the world of sports without instant replay. But, once upon a time, this amazing innovation didn’t exist. And then, in 1963 during the Army-Navy game, it was introduced, and the world of sports hasn’t been the same since. The man behind this invention was Tony Verna. And, on Sunday, he passed away at the age of 81.

His innovation forever changed the face of sports. Not only could viewers witness plays over and over again, but now officials had the opportunity to make the correct call on the field. This was a monumental achievement. However, just because this technology was available, doesn’t mean that it was always officially part of professional sports. And that is a shame. Because if it was, the history of sports might look a little different.

So, in honor of Tony Verna, here are three instances when instant replay would’ve changed the outcome of the game.

1. Jerry Rice’s not-so sure hands

When fans think of the 1998 NFC Wild Card Game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, the most vivid memory that comes to mind has to be ‘The Catch II.’ With only a few seconds left, Terrell Owens goes over the middle and catches a Steve Young pass in the end-zone, while also taking a brutal hit. Touchdown. 49ers win. Mass chaos. However, if instant replay was used in the NFL at that time, the play may never have happened. Why? Because Jerry Rice fumbled the ball.

A few plays before this amazing touchdown reception, Jerry Rice caught his first pass of the game, but fumbled the ball. However, the ruling on the field was that he was already down. So, no turnover. But, upon further review, it was clear that his knee was not down.

It should’ve been a fumble, and the Packers should’ve won the game. Where was instant replay when they needed it?

2. Not so perfect after all…

You know what’s worse than losing a perfect game in baseball? Completing a perfect game, only to have an umpire royally screwup the final out, and pretty much hijack it from you. Which is exactly what Jim Joyce did to Colorado Rockies pitcher Armando Galaragga. And everyone knew it.

This blown call was absolute highway robbery. Both teams knew the call was wrong. The Rockies’ fans were outraged, and the commentators were in disbelief, as they continued to reshow the play over and over again. But, this was 2010, and Major League Baseball didn’t use instant replay then. If only this had occurred four years later, Galaragga might’ve had his day in the sun.

3. Jeffrey Maier: A New York hero

From 1996 to 2000, the New York Yankees won the World Series four times in five years. They owned baseball, and formed a modern-day dynasty in the sport. But, what if one moment could’ve changed all that? What if a different outcome on one play changed the entire direction of this storied franchise? Unfortunately, we’ll never know. Because, during Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS, Yankees fan Jeffrey Maier reached into the field of play and turned Derek Jeter‘s fly ball into a home run. The play should have been overturned, but it stayed a homer. And everything changed.

One team eventually moved on to greatness. One man became the face of a city. And one wrong call may have been the catalyst behind it all. How about that?