Adjusting the NFL's replay rules

Posted: March 27, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. - The NFL owners continued to tinker with replay yesterday, approving a proposal that will allow the on-field referee to consult with members of the league's officiating department during replay reviews.

Before they adjourn their meetings at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lake Resort today, the owners will vote on three other replay-related rule proposals, including one by the New England Patriots that would expand the list of reviewable plays to, well, pretty much everything.

While the proposal likely won't pass, a number of the league's coaches, including the Patriots' Bill Belichick and the Ravens' John Harbaugh, have endorsed it.

"Everything that can be reviewed should be reviewed," Harbaugh said yesterday. "It's our feeling that technology has caught up with the game in a lot of ways. It's time to recognize that when the fans have a better view than the referee does, then it's time to put the referee on the same playing field as the fans. And you do that through technology."

Said Belichick: "As a coach, if you want to be able to challenge a play, I think you should be able to challenge it. Why does it have to be limited to the four or five pages in the rule book [of reviewable plays]?

"Every year it gets amended and it's hard to keep it straight. I can't get it right. For the officials themselves, it's challenging. It would simplify things [to make everything reviewable]."

The Patriots' replay proposal includes judgment calls, including pass interference and offensive holding.

"I understand it's a judgment call," Belichick said. "But if there's a challenge on an offensive holding [that isn't called] and they look at it and they don't think it's holding, I lose the challenge. But if it's an egregious play, I don't see why it shouldn't be allowed to be challenged when it affects the outcome of the game."

One of the main arguments against making every play reviewable is that it would cause delays. But Harbaugh disagrees.

"The time argument is bogus because college does it very quickly," he said. "It wouldn't slow down the game. It wouldn't take the game out of the referee's hands."

Harbaugh said if the league has the technology to rectify mistakes, it has an obligation to utilize that technology.

"Let's make sure the outcome is right, so when the game is all said and done, the fans aren't blaming the officials for the outcome. When the game is all said and done, they should be blaming or patting the players and coaches on the back. That's where the outcome of the game should be. And technology now gives us the opportunity to do that."

Pay to replay

One of the other replay-related proposals, which also was proposed by the Patriots, calls for the installation of fixed cameras on the sidelines, end lines and goal lines in all NFL stadiums to supplement the network cameras on replay reviews. Asked if he was concerned about the cost of buying and installing those cameras in 32 stadiums, Belichick said, "We just spent whatever it was, how many millions on the replay system. I mean, there's a thousand cameras in every stadium so that if somebody spills a beer on somebody, we have it on record. Maybe we could have a bake sale [to] raise some money for the cameras. Or do a car wash."

On Twitter: @Pdomo


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