Should Replay Decisions Be Ended In The NFL?

After a review that lasted almost five minutes – the NFL’s head of officiating Al Riveron deemed that the evidence proved that James had failed to survive the ground and the pass was incomplete. Source: AKjoshgray via Twitter

The New England Patriots have benefited again from the NFL’s review system to secure the number one seed in the AFC Conference for the post-season. Their fortune has drawn the ire and the whisper of ‘conspiracy theory’ by fans and the teams chasing them alike in the battle to reach the Super Bowl. The question has been posed whether the usage of replays, especially slow-motion, is taking the moment out of the sport. The Sports Techie community blog is firm in our support to continue the use of instant replay in sports. The number of calls this process helps gets right far outweighs the calls that are missed and also the time it takes to review the video clips.

When Bill Belichick’s men played the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, the contest was expected to be one of the best matches of the regular season. It did not disappoint, as the two titans jostled for control of the game. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski appeared to swing the balance of power in favor of the Patriots with a drive late in the fourth quarter to put the visitors ahead.

However, Ben Roethlisberger completed a sizzling 69-yard pass to Juju Smith-Schuster to set the Steelers up in scoring position. With the next play, Roethlisberger seemingly fired the game-winning touchdown strike to Jesse James over the middle of the field. The home supporters erupted in celebration as it appeared to even the commentators on television and me sitting at home that the tight end’s score was clean.

After a review that lasted almost five minutes – the NFL’s head of officiating Al Riveron deemed that the evidence proved that James had failed to survive the ground and the pass was incomplete. Pittsburgh imploded following the decision, as Roethlisberger committed a huge mistake. This resulted in an interception by Duron Harmon and a win for the Patriots that would decide the number one seed, installing them as 8/11 contenders in the bet365 NFL odds to win the AFC Conference.

Without the replay the James score would have counted as the officials deemed it the right call on the field, although, by the letter of the law the overturn was correct. However, all the emotion was taken out of the moment after the review. These incidents are becoming too frequent in the NFL, where almost every aspect of the game has become scrutinized by numerous cameras and slow-motion. In every sport, slow-motion can open up different interpretations of a play or incident – like a tackle in soccer.

The Patriots were on the receiving end of another beneficial call in their bid to wrap up the number one seed. Kelvin Benjamin believed he had scored a touchdown at the end of the half to send the Buffalo Bills into a four-point lead. Source: 1USNews via Twitter

The Patriots were on the receiving end of another beneficial call in their bid to wrap up the number one seed. Kelvin Benjamin believed he had scored a touchdown at the end of the half to send the Buffalo Bills into a four-point lead. The officials on the field signaled a touchdown as he made the grab in the corner of the endzone. However, on the replay Riveron deemed that Benjamin did not get his second foot down in bounds, although there was not a great deal of evidence to overturn the call. Technology and HD cameras are extremely beneficial for watching matches but, when they begin to interfere with results on the field, some feel it may be time to keep them away from officials.

Buffalo ended up losing the contest by a healthy margin, although the score could have changed the course of the game. The Bills still managed to reach the playoffs but the notion that the fate of teams is left up to the interpretation of how an incident looks on television replays rather than the call on the field when doubt either way is in question, is a process worth reviewing in order to improve and upgrade it.

The Microsoft Surface tablet is the NFL technology sponsor and product used during replay on-field.

Sports Techie,  I am biased when it comes to instant replay in sports because of the “Phantom Touchdown” scored by NY Jets quarterback Vinnie Testaverde in 1998 that defeated the Seattle Seahawks back when I was the Director of Sales for Sports 2000. The Hawks helped develop and used the GridIron 200o expert game planning system running on Windows 95 during the season. Unfortunately, this bad call meant the end of Head Coach Dennis Erickson, firing of his staff and the termination of the company. Watch the second camera angle in the video below and you clearly see the football is behind the goal-line. Most fans believe this play along with a couple others forced the NFL to bring back replay for good.

It bugs me that NFL owners still don’t have mandatory cameras on and above each end zone goal-line in every stadium. Claiming cost is an issue is moronic for a billion-dollar industry. It is obvious on goalline plays and first downs decisions that human interpretation is often wrong and unjustified by video replay. How can human eyes see through thousands of pounds of human flesh to see where the ball is located on a QB sneak play? The answer is, they can’t.

It drives me nuts that NFL centralized replay decision making for replays and challenges is in the hands of one person located in New York City because Riveron like his predecessor Dean Blandino, has no guts to overturn most calls and rely on the letter of the law (rules) much like a lawyer rather than interpret calls like a ref on the field (which Blandino had no prior experience as a NFL referee to lean on).

Professional soccer leagues have implemented the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) sports tech solution that involves three refs interpreting video replays from the booth rather than one. Perhaps adding two more refs to NFL centralized replay decision making is the next evolution of the process.

The NFC and AFC Championship games this weekend feature three quarterbacks with little to no playoff experience and the league’s GOAT, Tom Brady, who has an NFL record 26 playoff wins and 35 games started.

Will these facts affect the refs live calls during the games as well as sway Riveron’s replay decisions? I hope not but it is hard to forget about Brady’s stature when reffing his games, he has earned it.

Fans are wise to scrutinize each crucial and non-crucial call on Sunday because the Patriots should earn their way to Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis fair and square. Just as the Minnesota Vikings want to win without replay controversy so they can be first team in NFL history to play the final game of the season at their home stadium, SKOL.

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles may need to overcome replay decisions to win and advance. Gamblers also know this in advance, just ask those that bet on the New Orleans Saints last weekend!

I believe the Pats and Vikings will face off in the Super Bowl with Tom Brady winning the NFL Championship game adding a sixth Super Ring to his Hall of Fame career, instant replay willing.

See ya later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!

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