by Kent Sterling
Plans are for the NFL’s director of officiating and his deputy to sit in a command center in New York, preview the video prior to the referee getting to the booth so he will see only the relevant footage, and then consult briefly with the ref to make sure the call is correct. The referee will still control the game, but the extra pair of eyes will ensure more correct calls, and the time the ref uses to get to the booth being used to cue up the correct angle should speed the pace of the game – and more importantly the broadcast.
In theory, the scheme sounds great, but as anyone in business can tell you – the bigger the meeting, the longer the meeting. Involving additional people in the decision-making process may result in a few more correct interpretations of the rules, and the providing the ref only the relevant look rather than a parade of multiple vantage points theoretically will save time.
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My own peculiar aversion to replay aside (I don’t see the need for expending time in order to confirm the veracity of calls in an event where who wins or loses is of no real importance – after all, NFL games are not brain surgery), I am willing to reserve judgment until seeing whether the time for review is cut or expanded by involving another person.
Also approved was a communications process that will allow officials to confer without convening physically on the field. For example, the linesman will be able to press a button to tell the referee that J.J. Watt was offside, instead of running to the center of the field to communicate directly with the ref. That should shave a few seconds too.
Anything that increases efficiency, I enthusiastically support, so I especially like this upgrade. Given the technological advancements of the last year – like Google Glass – it was absurd for the NFL to continue to require officials to run all over the field to confer. I’m going to be on a live conference call this afternoon with two dozen people from all corners of the country. To not allow officials to confer without scampering all over seems absurd.
The NFL also banned roll-up blocks on the side of a defensive player, a necessary change to help improve the long term health of those in the trenches.
All in all, I like these changes. Now, let’s see what they do to tweak the useless extra point.