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Mike Pereira: Replay is one person’s judgment

Mike Pereira, FOX NFL Sunday AP

The NFL’s inability to come up with a workable definition of what is and what is not a catch reared its ugly head again on Sunday, when former VP of Officiating Mike Pereira said on FOX that an apparent Green Bay interception should be overturned on replay — just before referee Terry McAulay upheld the play.

Now Pereira has weighed in on the play again, saying that whether Packers defensive back Sam Shields had possession of the ball or not was a judgment call that could have gone either way.

“I’m surprised that Terry McAulay did not reverse this. I felt the ball came loose after touching the ground,” Pereira writes at FOXSports.com. “This proves that replay is still one person’s judgment against another. While I think it should have been reversed, I can’t fault McAulay for feeling there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the call that was made on the field.”

But that explanation is unsatisfactory: What was the point of delaying the game to review the play if replays are just one person’s judgment against another?

Until the NFL clarifies the rules about players going to the ground while they catch a pass, we’re going to keep seeing confusing rulings like the ones we saw on Sunday, both in the Packers-Bears game and in the Jets-Steelers game. Now we just need to hope the league clarifies the rule in the offseason. And that this confusing rule doesn’t affect the Super Bowl.

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50 Responses to “Mike Pereira: Replay is one person’s judgment”
  1. benh999 says: Jan 24, 2011 1:34 PM

    Pereira works for FOX, not the NFL. How can you find fault with what the NFL does based on his explanations?

  2. dirksimmons says: Jan 24, 2011 1:35 PM

    I’d like to have that interception back. That was a dagger before the half. It was clear they didn’t take a good look at the play because Green Bay would have gotten the ball at the 3. Johnny Knox touched his helmet on the way down. After the replay, Green Bay still got the ball at the 11. It didn’t matter too much because they just ended up taking a knee before half, but it just points out that they didn’t take a very close look at it.

  3. baseballstars says: Jan 24, 2011 1:39 PM

    Calvin Johnson would like his touchdown back. The NFL needs to get their crap together.

  4. scytherius says: Jan 24, 2011 1:41 PM

    The problem isn’t replay, the problem is how they define a catch. Not saying it’s the easiest thing in the world to do, but this rule MAY need some tweaking.

  5. JimmySmith says: Jan 24, 2011 1:42 PM

    Take a closer look at the reply, two things, one, Shields got his hand underneath the ball so whether it moved or not, it didn’t touch the ground so it was an INT. Second, Knox may have touched his helmet but he was not yet down so he was not down by contact since the contact came prior.

    So the refs did get it right.

  6. childressrulz says: Jan 24, 2011 1:43 PM

    This is ridiculous. Come up with a definition that is cut and dry NFL. A judgment call does not cut it. All year with this crap. Has anyone else noticed the refs refuse to admit when they were wrong. It was clearly the wrong call on Sunday. There was clear overwhelming evidence to overturn the int and the idiot ref just said “no we’ll go with what was called on the field.” Oh yeah I am a Packer fan also. Get this crapola fixed before next season. If you idiots even manage to have a season next year.

  7. buckybadger says: Jan 24, 2011 1:44 PM

    The college system is far superior to the pros and doesn’t take as long. I really think they don’t use it because it doesn’t cause the commercial breaks the current pro system does. It is a joke how much strategy the coach has to use to simply make sure the game is being called correctly or as correctly as you can manage to make it.

    Give each coach one challenge and have a separate official in a booth reviewing every play. You could even have 3 so they can have a vote. Just don’t pull a BYU and have an employee and alumni be the people in the booth. The booth officials can make the ruling immediately sending the spot of the ball and down and it wouldn’t take 10 minutes.

  8. leucas66 says: Jan 24, 2011 1:44 PM

    Replay has value because while some plays may still remain subjective/borderline, others, maybe most, are more clearly black and white. And if those black and white ones are called incorrectly, replay gives you the chance to rectify that.

    Anyway, there was nothing controversial about that interception. It was a stretch to review it but it could have been critical had it been called incorrectly (which it wasn’t).

  9. jethro007 says: Jan 24, 2011 1:45 PM

    It was an interception. He controlled the ball when it hit the ground and maintained controll–although he shifted hands and used his shoulder.

    We get any more nitpicky on this stuff–it will suck the fun out of the game.

  10. theandy59 says: Jan 24, 2011 1:45 PM

    While it was obvious that the ball moved (on the interception in question), what’s not clear is whether or not the ball touched the ground. From the angles shown, you couldn’t tell whether or not the ball ever touched the ground and it was certainly possible that while the player lost control of the ball, it never touched the field. I was surprised to hear Pereira state that the call should be overturned as it was certainly less than definitive visual evidence that the call was wrong. Isn’t that what replay is supposed to do – correct a call only when there is clear, definitive visual evidence that the original call was wrong? I see this all the time where officials infer what happened in the absence of conclusive proof of what happened, and given Pereira’s statement it seems like they were just following their leader’s example.

  11. gforce90 says: Jan 24, 2011 1:46 PM

    Usually the person making the call has to put down their terrible towel to let the refs know to give Pittsburgh any call they want.

  12. medcitybob says: Jan 24, 2011 1:48 PM

    There is way, way too much use of instant replay…and hyper-slow motion replay of did the ball touch the ground……it is not a perfect world……..all this does is to slow down the game; and takes away from the flow……..

  13. mrizzo44 says: Jan 24, 2011 1:50 PM

    Can’t we just take a “Close-Enough” approach? Do we really need to stop the game for 10 minutes, and break out a magnifying glass, to determine weather not a catch was made?

  14. clayshair says: Jan 24, 2011 1:53 PM

    The principle is that it has to be indisputable. If two reasonable people can disagree, it’s not indisputable. Leave the play as called.

  15. ihateannouncers says: Jan 24, 2011 1:53 PM

    You can’ t fault McAulay, but you just did in your first statement. Looks to me like you were embarrassed on national tv by saying it would be reversed right before it wasn’t. You quit being a referee, you made your opinion known and it was not what the real referee saw. Let it go. FOX is still going to pay for your opinions.

  16. chapnastier says: Jan 24, 2011 1:55 PM

    Last year you clamored about OT being a problem and needing to be fixed for the playoffs and the Superbowl. Well it was fixed and we haven’t seen a need for its implication to this point. Sports in general have an element of human error to them and most athletes accept that. Those who never played a sport can’t.

  17. purpleisreallypinkyouknow says: Jan 24, 2011 1:56 PM

    I think McAuley saw what I did. Shields had 3 fingers underneath the ball and then maintained control. Certainly was nothing completely clear to turn it over.

  18. txtuff says: Jan 24, 2011 1:58 PM

    The NFL doesn’t need to clarify the rules, it just needs to hold the referees accountable when they make a bad call. I didn’t see the play (was in my car but was listening to it) but bottom line is if the ball moves after touching the ground it is a no catch. I did see the play in Pittsburgh and they got that one right.

  19. ncswa says: Jan 24, 2011 1:58 PM

    I know this sounds stupid, but I believe when you challenge a play you cannot just say I don’t like the play, I challenge. You have to specify what you are challenging, either that it was intercepted, or that he was down. Maybe Lovie only challenged the INT and not the spot.

  20. deegizzle says: Jan 24, 2011 1:59 PM

    Isn’t the phrase “judgement call” used as an excuse as to why certain plays aren’t reviewable? If this is a “judgement call,” as Smith stated… “What was the point of delaying the game to review the play if replays are just one person’s judgment against another?”

  21. steelerdynasty2010 says: Jan 24, 2011 2:02 PM

    put one replay official in the box like they do for NCAA and one on the field. the guy in the box can review all plays just as they do in college (if for no other reason than to keep him engaged in the game). when a play is challenged, they BOTH watch. if they agree, then it should be judged indisputable and make the appropriate call on the field. if their opinions differ in ANY way, then it is NOT indisuputable visual evidence (because if two officials cannot agree, there is a dispute). they wouldnt even have to pay an extra ref as there is always an extra on hand anyway in case of injury.

    what do the rest of you think?

  22. Deb says: Jan 24, 2011 2:03 PM

    I thought both balls were catches, but like other Steelers am glad the refs ruled against us so we wouldn’t have to hear the usual losers’ lament of “ref favoritism.”

    The confusion over the Shields’ interception wasn’t the only inconsistency on display in McAuley’s officiating. Aaron Rodgers took an illegal blow to the head, spit out a tiny bit of blood from a cut on his tongue, and McAuley was quick to throw the flag–which was the appropriate call. But when Roethlisberger took an illegal blow to the head in the second Ravens game of the season and suffered a broken nose from which he was streaming blood, McAuley told him he didn’t want to interrupt the game with a flag.

    If Goodell were as concerned about illegal blows to the head as he pretends to be, he’d fine McAuley for failing to abide by the rules in the Steelers game and blatantly demonstrating that some officials consider certain QBs more “fragile” and important to protect than others.

    Implementing the NCAA’s review system might help equalize some of these inequities.

  23. closisgood says: Jan 24, 2011 2:04 PM

    Pereira was the league’s lead official until this year, now he works for FOX. I think he would know a lil’ sumfin, sumfin

  24. jazzytrav says: Jan 24, 2011 2:04 PM

    “I’d like to have that interception back. That was a dagger before the half.”

    Catch or not, I wouldn’t call it a “dagger.” There was 49 seconds left and they were at the 41. They had barely moved the ball all game, but I’ll concede that there was a possibility of picking up a few more yards and getting a field goal. That still doesn’t make up the difference in the game. You’re talking about a 3-point swing in a 7-point game…not really that big of a deal, and not even close to a dagger.

  25. silkyjohnson937 says: Jan 24, 2011 2:05 PM

    Pereira SUCKS I cant tell you how many times he says a replay is going one way and its goes the other im sure thats why he is FORMER vp of officiating

  26. gbfanforever says: Jan 24, 2011 2:07 PM

    There was no doubt Shield’s int was legit.

  27. deepbacksidedig says: Jan 24, 2011 2:07 PM

    benh999 says:
    Jan 24, 2011 1:34 PM

    Pereira works for FOX, not the NFL. How can you find fault with what the NFL does based on his explanations?
    **********
    I think the point is there is too much subjectivity. The explanation that a different opinion is somehow valid reinforces the feeling that there is no definitively right answer.
    Therefore, the rule needs clarification.

  28. JSpicoli says: Jan 24, 2011 2:15 PM

    Next thing they will do is have the audience decide via twitter or texting.

    NFL RIP

  29. anonymouslyanonymouscommentor says: Jan 24, 2011 2:16 PM

    What objective measure do you want to be used to determine if the ball was coming loose? Milimeters moved per second?

    At some point, every call is going to involve some subjectivity, it’s just that the goal is to minimize it. Can you minimize it much more than it already is?

  30. hatesycophants says: Jan 24, 2011 2:18 PM

    I do not give a damn what Pereira says. Having him in the booth, or having his opinion solicited in any fashion at all is ridiculous. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are irritating enough without bringing in some former bureaucrat with an obvious agenda. Make it stop.

  31. comeonnowguys says: Jan 24, 2011 2:19 PM

    @Jimmy

    You are absolutely wrong on both points, but it did pass the eye/common-sense test as an interception and should have been ruled as an INT.

  32. raiderman41 says: Jan 24, 2011 2:20 PM

    I was surprised that the tuck rule didn’t come into play in the Jets/Steelers game. Sanchez went back to pass, pump faked and then was hit before his arm was moving forward again.

    The way the rule was interpreted in the infamous Raiders/Patriots game, the ball had to be completely tucked back into Brady’s body before it could be considered a fumble. Pictures showed that Brady had both hands on the ball on his chest, but it still wasn’t officially “tucked.”

    Sanchez didn’t tuck the ball before beginning to attempt another pass. He didn’t fully tuck the ball, so why wasn’t this rule, as stupid as it is, enforced?

    Once and for all, the NFL needs to get rid of this rule, which is not even on the rulebooks of any other level of football, from pee wee to the Canadian Football League and the NCAA. Only the NFL mucks things up with this rule.

    And yes, I’m still mad as heck that it was enforced (selectively) against the Raiders.

  33. sirbenly says: Jan 24, 2011 2:21 PM

    What if we scrap replay altogether, add 2 referees to the field, and get rid of these ridiculous, hair-splitting rules that try to define a catch. If the referees agree that it’s a catch on the field, let their judgment stand as is. No need to replay. Besides, it adds intrigue to the game when questionable calls are made and upheld.

  34. beastofeden says: Jan 24, 2011 2:23 PM

    Good article MDS.

    I wish there was more content like this on the website as opposed to alot of the opinion based blogs about how NFL players need to act off the field.

  35. bartpkelly says: Jan 24, 2011 2:24 PM

    Even if there is a clear ruling you will still have one person’s judgement, just like you do with:

    Was his knee down or not
    Was the QB’s arm moving forward or not
    Did the second foot drag or not
    etc.

    It is all one person’s judgement against the rest of us at home on the couch.

  36. anonymouslyanonymouscommentor says: Jan 24, 2011 2:25 PM

    @hatesycophants

    What agenda would that be?

    I’ve seen him both agree and disagree with the call on the field.

    I don’t see much room for an agenda there….

  37. chapnastier says: Jan 24, 2011 2:26 PM

    Deb: “But when Roethlisberger took an illegal blow to the head in the second Ravens game of the season and suffered a broken nose from which he was streaming blood, McAuley told him he didn’t want to interrupt the game with a flag.”

    It wasn’t illegal, it was incidental. I know your boy toy has brought you back to the promise land but that doesn’t mean you can imagine new rules.

  38. profootballwalk says: Jan 24, 2011 2:29 PM

    Only one solution – get rid or replay. The NFL worked just fine without it. Sometimes you get the call, and sometimes it goes against you. Vince Lombardi dealt with it, and so did Don Shula and Tom Landry. There’s no replay in soccer, and the world does just fine without it.

  39. minnesconsin says: Jan 24, 2011 2:43 PM

    ncswa says:
    Jan 24, 2011 1:58 PM
    I know this sounds stupid, but I believe when you challenge a play you cannot just say I don’t like the play, I challenge. You have to specify what you are challenging, either that it was intercepted, or that he was down. Maybe Lovie only challenged the INT and not the spot.
    —————

    you’re right, and you’re wrong. In the last 2 minutes of the half it’s booth review only, in which case they review the entire play and attempt to get the entire play right. i thought the pic was clean, but was surprised they didn’t take the yards away.

  40. dirksimmons says: Jan 24, 2011 2:48 PM

    @jazzytrav

    Clearly you’re not a Bears fan, because that pick hurt big time, particularly because the score was 14-0. Any momentum going into halftime is crucial. If you remember, it came right on the heels of Briggs’ miraculous interception. Big shift in momentum and then we gave it right back.

    And besides who knows what would have happened if they had points on the board. They might not have been so pressed later in the game. And frankly, I don’t care what you’ll concede. Maybe we would’ve gotten a touchdown on that drive. I think it’s hard to say either way, but I still say, at that point in the game, it was a dagger.

  41. grandsonofcoach says: Jan 24, 2011 2:50 PM

    PFT I pose to you that Pereira is the problem here. Not the call on the field or by the replay officials. If you watch the play back there is no visual evidence that shows the ball actually touching the ground. Yes it moves, but Shields rolls over to his side before he hits the ground and cradles the ball to his stomach (at which point it moves). Since the call on the field was interception, you would need “overwhelming” visual evidence that the ball touching the ground caused the ball to move to reverse the call. It just isn’t there. In which case, there is no judgment call at play as Pereira suggest there is (except in his OWN mind). Instead the replay officials made the only non-judgmental call available to them, lacking conclusive visual evidence…the play stands as called.

    But Pereira goes on Fox right after the play and does what he normally does. Talks in complete circles, almost as if he hasn’t made up his mind yet. He even starts down the road of telling viewers what the call was on the field (interception), as if he is about to make the argument that there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn, but suddenly states (without giving a concrete factual reason why) the call should be overturned. Remember this is the same guy who invented the “second act” rule/non-rule that doesn’t appear in any rule book, but he applied it several times like it was. Which leads me to think its a good thing he is no longer overseeing the replay officials. I wonder why that is?

  42. hatesycophants says: Jan 24, 2011 3:02 PM

    @ anonymously,

    That’s exactly what you’re supposed to see.

    As you were.

  43. nickster2k says: Jan 24, 2011 3:10 PM

    chapnastier says:
    Jan 24, 2011 2:26 PM
    Deb: “But when Roethlisberger took an illegal blow to the head in the second Ravens game of the season and suffered a broken nose from which he was streaming blood, McAuley told him he didn’t want to interrupt the game with a flag.”

    It wasn’t illegal, it was incidental. I know your boy toy has brought you back to the promise land but that doesn’t mean you can imagine new rules.

    ========================

    I always thought you couldn’t make contact with the QB’s head at all– whether or not it is incidental is irrelevant. I have seen penalties called for just slightly grazing the QB’s helmet.

    Unfortunately I cannot find clarification anywhere. Does anybody really know?

  44. nickster2k says: Jan 24, 2011 3:13 PM

    I strongly agree with everyone that posted that the NFL should follow NCAA’s replay system– at least the concept of having a replay official(s) in the booth that expedites the process.

    In college they would have already reviewed the play in the time it takes for an NFL official just to announce that the play will be reviewed.

  45. snnyjcbs says: Jan 24, 2011 3:44 PM

    He said all one needs to know, the NFL and the way they have many rules today is set up so they can steer a game any way they like. Screw the Raiders in Tuck Game helping New England and then screwing the Ravens a couple years ago to help New England .

    The rules years ago you would hear the NFL say all the time that they have rules for the most part that take any “Judgement” away from the Ref. They wanted as clear a rules as they could find.

    Since the Greed Business type owners have been taking over it is all about money and the show. Big Brother can now call anything they like on almost any call and reverse it the following week against another team. I call it subtle nudging when needed or wanted. Great to see all the stuff he use to feed us on NFL Network has turned out to be BS to please the BOSS.

  46. pukey60 says: Jan 24, 2011 4:28 PM

    The “part time” refs in the NFL is an absurd concept to even begin with. It probably originted a long time ago before even bad teams are wort 3/4 of a billion. There is simply too much on the line for this to continue as is.

    As PLEASE don’t use the money as an argument. The teams collectively probably make enough on one game selling hot dogs to pay the refs salary for the year, or more likely forever.

    Total bush, and I don’t mean Reggie.

  47. Deb says: Jan 24, 2011 5:11 PM

    @chapnastier and nickster2k …

    From the film, it appears that Ngata deliberately reached up and whacked Roethlisberger in the face. That’s not incidental contact. Ngata was fined for the hit. So apparently the league disagrees with Chapnastier’s assessment that I’m inventing new rules.

    Chapnastier, I was making a comment about how the same ref handled similar hits to players on two different teams. There was no reason for you to give it a sexual connotation–and you wouldn’t have if I weren’t female. I don’t find Ben Roethlisberger attractive, and am tired of people like you attaching your own prurient meanings to my comments just because I’m a woman and your minds are in the gutter.

    @raiderman41 …

    I think the Tuck Rule is a crock and you guys were screwed. IMO anytime the QB is hit like that and loses the ball, it should be a fumble–as it would be with any other player. But I didn’t see any indication that Sanchez was trying to tuck the ball. In fact, the Sanchez fumble/TD was a mirror image of the the Roethlisberger fumble/TD in last week’s Ravens game. It would have been ridiculous to call it a fumble/TD with Roethlisberger and not to have done so with Sanchez.

  48. adamb103 says: Jan 24, 2011 6:11 PM

    “What was the point of delaying the game to review the play if replays are just one person’s judgment against another?”

    How about that one person’s judgment from the replay booth is better than anyone’s judgment in real time.

    Is that a good enough reason to allow a short delay in the game? I’d think most people would say yes, especially given how obvious some calls are that NFL refs miss.

    I think the real problem is how bad the officiating is in general, not the fact that it’s one guy’s judgment against another’s.

    What call isn’t one guy’s judgment against another’s, anyway? Even if you’re talking about whether the ball crossed the goal line or whether a guy stepped out of bounds, it’s all subject to the reviewing official’s perception. That’s judgment, no?

  49. joyjoy69 says: Jan 24, 2011 10:55 PM

    Come on! When will people realize that no matter how much technology you bring to the table, and no matter how good it is, life will always be subject to human error? More and more lately, I see a play numerous times on TV and just don’t know what the right call is. I leave it to this basic tenet: it could go either way, but I didn’t see enough to overturn the call on the field. People, mistakes will get made, and we should find every way possible to improve that. But they will get made, because human beings play the game and make the calls. We owe it to the game to give the officials the best tools possible to make the best call possible. Still, the key is whether they make those calls without a preference that could make the game unfair. If the answer is honestly no, let the players play on that level playing field and do the best they can to win. But remember that in the end human beings have to make the decisions, and they can make mistakes as well as you or I can.

  50. Beer Cheese Soup says: Jan 25, 2011 3:01 AM

    Deb says:

    I thought both balls were catches, but like other Steelers am glad the refs ruled against us so we wouldn’t have to hear the usual losers’ lament of “ref favoritism.”

    Implementing the NCAA’s review system might help equalize some of these inequities.
    ____________

    Great post. You make a lot of points that I agree with. Nice to see someone propose an actual remedy instead of just blindly complaining about the current system.

    I do have one small issue though: you can’t, as a seemingly reasonable person, tell me there have never been incidents of “ref favoritism” involving the Steelers. You can’t honestly believe the entire country is just making up so-called “conspiracy theories” because they have some unexplainable hatred for your team.

    I will certainly admit that my Packers have gotten more than their share of breaks. That’s been especially true in the last two years, and also in the late 90’s. So come on, take your steel glasses off and be objective here. Do you still deny it?

    One does have to wonder though, in the upcoming battle of two of the league’s three most referee-assisted teams (Patriots), who will get more of the calls they need to win the game? Hard to say, but there’s little doubt that officiating will play a factor. Should make for a very interesting Bowl.

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