The NFL has had a tortured relationship with instant replay as an officiating tool.
Over the years the league has voted it in, voted it out, had replay decisions made from a booth above the field and then on the field.
Now, instant replay is moving to New York. Good luck finding a cheap apartment.
NFL team owners voted Tuesday at their annual meeting to once again amend the replay system and essentially take the referee out of the decision-making process. No more trotting to the sideline and ducking under the hood while the P.A. system blares the theme music from final Jeopardy! The league’s officiating honchos will make the calls from New York and relay them to the field official via a Surface pad. The referee will be consulted, but will not make the call.
This should save some time and add consistency to calls in dispute. That’s all good. And it’s another step in a long process to, as every coach would demand, “just get the call right.”
The NFL first implemented instant replay in 1986 on a one-year basis. It was renewed annually (and painfully) through 1991 and then voted out. It returned – one a one-year basis – in 1999 with better technology. It was renewed annually until 2007 when the owners voted it in permanently, when high-definition TV screens were available to improve the view of close and important calls.
Football is a difficult game to officiate, with 22 huge moving parts. You’ll often hear the expression “a bang-bang play” to describe one with controversy – did the knee hit the ground before the ball came loose, did the defender cause a fumble or an incomplete pass? Nothing will ever be perfect.
But the NFL keeps working at finding a system that reduces errors and doesn’t take too long to do it.
If we’ll miss anything, it’s the referee ducking under that hood. And hopefully the referee won’t miss anything. If he does, we’ll throw it to New York.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman