NFL Finally Responds to Some Criticisms Over Instant Replay Processes

In a world where nobody is ever a fan of the referees, instant replay only adds to the frustration. Not only is it an imperfect science based on individual interpretation, but it can delay the game and often doesn’t do much. The NFL recognizes this and as a result, they are looking into a way to overhaul a system that is constantly changing and offering inadequate results. The NFL could soon look toward technology to help this, however.

Problems with NFL replay

Mistakes are a part of officiating. Despite every fan’s desire to have the officials call a perfect game, the officials are expected to view the game in real-time without the luxury of alternate camera angles that are zoomed in and slowed down. It is, however, fair for the fans to expect officials to make the right calls on the game’s most obvious players. 

Certain plays are reviewable and certain plays that aren’t, and if the officials do not use the proper safeguards to ensure the proper utilization of replay they can drastically change the game. The New Orleans Saints learned this the hard way during a week 2 loss against the Los Angeles Rams, and they showed many flaws in the current process as they did so. 

Saints/Rams, Week 2

The play in question had Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan recover what appeared to be clear fumble from quarterback Jared Goff and run 80 yards for a touchdown. In a perfect world, the officials would have allowed the play to end before making an on-field decision so they had the luxury of a clear-cut replay, but they immediately ruled it an incomplete pass and allowed the Rams to retain the ball and get a field goal. It was a 10-point swing. 

The Saints, mind you, were also the recipients of an egregious no-call that went in favor of the Rams during the NFC Championship game last year, and the results of it may have cost them a trip to the Super Bowl. The 50/50 calls that typically go to review can be major game-changers, but as the current system consistently allows referees to get away with heinous mistakes, something needs to be done. 

This simply highlights one issue with the replay methodology, but the NFL is taking steps that could trickle down and affect nearly every aspect of the job. From plays so bad that an official got fired to blown playoff games, the NFL has a problem on its hand that it needs to begin addressing. 

How do you fix NFL instant replay?

There are annual changes to replay rules that consistently allow for more accuracy while preferably keeping game times down, but the NFL is now looking at an entire overhaul of the process. The current system relies on the television crews to get the best angles. This requires a middle man who must use their discretion while sending the officials replays.

The NFL’s new proposal would have every single angle available at the command center in New York City. This would allow the replay center and the officials to get multiple looks right away without having to work through an already-busy television crew. The league is reportedly looking toward former head of officiating Dean Blandino to overlook the whole process, which would roll out at the start of next season. 

Without the television involvement, the league would have to make sure that the technology and training would help streamline the process, and is looking to see what it can do to make revamped replays a reality. 

With new replay methods would come new rules, and perhaps the proper implementation of these new rules could help the league find a way to crack down on the more egregious missed calls without making the NFL games even longer. We are yet to see if this is the case, but with the proposed methodology, the NFL may be on the right track.