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NFL to consider unlimited challenges, as long as they’re successful

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Under current NFL rules, a coach may challenge two calls per game, and if replay reviews prove him right on both of them, he gets a third challenge. Three is the limit.

If a proposal before the Competition Committee this week is approved, there will be no limit, and coaches can keep challenging as long as they’re successful.

Washington has proposed a rule that would permit an unlimited number of successful challenges. If the challenges are unsuccessful, the limit would still be two.

That rule proposal would seem to have a lot of headwind in an offseason in which the NFL has made faster-paced games a top priority. More challenges means more replay delays, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has acknowledged that replay delays are a problem.

So it seems unlikely that the rule would be adopted. A team challenging four, five, six or more times a game could slow the game to a crawl, even if the coach is correct. Of course, the real issue is that officials shouldn’t be making enough mistakes that a coach could have four, five or six successful challenges in the first place.

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60 Responses to “NFL to consider unlimited challenges, as long as they’re successful”
  1. evrybdyhas1 says: Mar 26, 2017 8:54 AM

    It makes a lot of sense so it is probably DOA. I think fans can live with getting it right the NFL just needs to streamline the review. In the end the game is improved.

  2. JSpicoli says: Mar 26, 2017 8:54 AM

    This makes sense. I never understood the premise that there are only 2-3 times a half/game this random need could come up.

  3. alwaters9 says: Mar 26, 2017 8:54 AM

    Leave it to the NFL to deem faster paced games more important than correcting bad officiating.

    Goodell must go.

  4. ochostinko says: Mar 26, 2017 8:56 AM

    How about hiring full time officials that won’t blow as many calls? This would help to cut back on the need for extra challenges…

  5. unbridledsexy says: Mar 26, 2017 8:58 AM

    The officiating can get so bad in some games a day give it a shot for a year and see how it goes.

  6. nyneal says: Mar 26, 2017 9:11 AM

    Pete Carroll will challenge every play.

  7. cubancigar10 says: Mar 26, 2017 9:12 AM

    Full-time refs and get rid of instant replay. Ruins the flow of the game.

  8. tonebones says: Mar 26, 2017 9:20 AM

    Eventually there will be no need for challenges because the entire game will be officiated through direct communication with referees in the booth watching video. They will relay the info down to the field as it’s happening, without causing any delays. They’ve had the ability to do this for a long time, and the colleges already do something similar. Full time referees aren’t going to matter any more than bringing back the regular officials have after the strike. Remember that? Remember how we couldn’t wait to get the “perfect” regular refs back? LOL. We even gave them a hero’s welcome back. No human being, part time or full time, is as accurate as slow motion replay with ten different angles. The only thing better would be fifteen angles and better cameras. Don’t worry. That’s coming too.

  9. abninf says: Mar 26, 2017 9:22 AM

    Congress has proposed a rule? Oh, you mean the Redskins.

  10. MichaelEdits says: Mar 26, 2017 9:27 AM

    When you make a mistake, and realize you’ve made a mistake, the first thing you want to do is admit your mistake. Unless, that is, you’re the NFL.

  11. NFLexpert says: Mar 26, 2017 9:32 AM

    And another thing. Never allow 2 women officials to work a game together. Once they start talking the game will go on forever…

  12. harrisonhits2 says: Mar 26, 2017 9:35 AM

    The game bears little resemblance to that of even 20 years ago.

    As the attorneys running the league continue to dismantle the game we have loved, they will lose a lot of fans and eventually their status as most popular sport in the US

  13. nyneal says: Mar 26, 2017 9:37 AM

    ochostinko says:
    Mar 26, 2017 8:56 AM
    How about hiring full time officials that won’t blow as many calls? This would help to cut back on the need for extra challenges…


    I don’t think full time officials will be any better at making calls than part time officials. What are they going to do with all those hours to fill? Study the rule book? Okay. Watch hours upon hours of film? Okay.
    But neither of those things will help them make judgement calls in a split second during games.
    And — I think the officials do an outstanding job already. The problem is, replay breaks down what they are asked to see in a split second in super slow motion and it gives tv viewers a huge advantage over the officials.
    Here’s the deal, to me. Bad calls even out over time. The NFL did just fine before replay and the challenge system and all these challenges did was slow the game down. The fact is, there is as much controversy now on calls after replay as there was before replay.
    I am against this unlimited challenge rule. In fact, I want the whole challenge system scrapped. Put the game back in the officials hands and be done with it.
    The worst call I have ever seen in any NFL game was the call the scab officials made during the Seattle / Green Bay game on Monday Night Football in 2012.
    Russell Wilson threw a Hail Mary pass into the end zone and it was clearly intercepted by M.D. Jennings, Packers defensive back. One official ruled a touch back, which was the correct call, and another one ruled a TD, which was mind boggling. He got the other official to change his mind. Then they reviewed it and even though it clearly showed the ball was intercepted, he said the TD was confirmed.
    The NFL later said it was the correct call, despite a total uproar by just about everyone other than Pete Carroll and the Seahawks. The proof that they blew it is they immediately settled a new contract with the real officials and the scabs were gone.
    I’ve watched that replay dozens of times and it is the most ridiculous call I have ever seen in my 55 years of watching the NFL. It proved beyond a shadow of doubt that the replay system is flawed, because an official can make a bad call and then it can be reviewed and allowed to stand, anyway. Jon Gruden was stunned. He could not believe it and for the first time ever, he was so stunned he had no words to say.
    Incidentally, I have seen the exact situation happen in several games involving different teams since then. A ball was thrown up for grabs and a DB got both arms around it and brought it into his chest while the WR had one hand on it, and every time it was called an interception without exception. That’s exactly what happened in that game, and it is the worst call I have ever seen. Had that been a playoff game or a Super Bowl game, Congress would have investigated the NFL for having an official on the take.
    The point is, replay does not work and it needs to go.
    Cowboys fans will point to the non-catch Dez Bryant “made” against the Packers in the playoffs as an another example of replay not working.
    I am a Packers fan, and I saw that Dez Bryant catch live and I saw it replayed, and I said it then and I’ll say it now, if that wasn’t a catch, there is no such thing as a catch. But in that case the definition of a catch in the rule book was the problem. It was a joke. And it still is. No one knows exactly what a catch is to this minute.
    There are already too many rules and too much electronic interference with the game, for me. Get rid of it all and just let us watch the damn games! Just like we did before all this crap was brought into it.

  14. redsoxu571 says: Mar 26, 2017 9:37 AM

    I still say teams should be allowed two wrong challenges before they are “out”, in order to avoid a crippling incorrect challenge early in the game.

    And concerns about this lengthening games is misplaced. We already know that coaches grossly underutilize challenges compared to how often they COULD use them, so clearly having more wouldn’t result in a flood of challenges. Yes, once in every 25 games or so there might be a large number of challenges, but that wouldn’t be enough for anyone to notice, and a team deserves the right to that many successful challenges, if that is what the officiating crew hands them.

  15. bernieknowsfootball says: Mar 26, 2017 9:39 AM

    This will take a lot of cash out of the refs pockets or we’re going to hear a lot of inconclusive calls just like years ago when the refs made a joke out of the NFL !!!

  16. rhamrhoddy says: Mar 26, 2017 9:42 AM

    I agree that it seems unfair to go 3 for 3 in replay turnovers and then lose your ability to challenge moving forward.

    However, the word “unlimited” concerns me. I don’t know what the right number should be here but probably somewhere between 3 and unlimited.

  17. footballboozer says: Mar 26, 2017 9:43 AM

    Bill Belichick suggested this years ago and the NFL said no way.
    Now, Danny (small man syndrome) Snynder wants it and its a great idea.
    It’s not the first time either, Belichick is light years ahead of the dopes who run this league!

  18. denverdave3 says: Mar 26, 2017 9:43 AM

    I say eliminate the officials entirely and play the game on the honor system.

  19. randomguy9999 says: Mar 26, 2017 9:45 AM

    highly unlikely that a team would win more than 3 in a row anyway, so why not

  20. isithockeyseasonyet says: Mar 26, 2017 9:45 AM

    You should be able to get 2 wrong. End of stiey

  21. lscottman3 says: Mar 26, 2017 9:47 AM

    Just out Belichick on the competition committee and get things right from day one

  22. xlivsaints says: Mar 26, 2017 9:47 AM

    I really have been saying this for years: as long as a team has timeouts to use as “collateral,” let the team challenge as many calls as it wants as long as the challenges are getting the calls correct and/or the team has timeouts to burn in case the challenges are unsuccessful.

  23. polegojim says: Mar 26, 2017 10:00 AM

    Yeah, but it’s not just getting the call right… it’s also about coaches challenging ANY call they don’t like and wasting an enormous amount of time in the process.

    “I was watching an NFL challenge last Sunday… and a football game broke out in between reviews.”

    That’s the problem.

  24. arwiv says: Mar 26, 2017 10:15 AM

    Late March may be the deadest time in the year if youre an NFL fan.

  25. dawoger says: Mar 26, 2017 10:15 AM

    Not sure why the League would hire women for refs other than for PC reasons. The league and the women hired can claim all they want that they are there only to call the game and not to make themselves the centerpiece of the broadcast but human nature tells us differently. If you disagree with me than please point to one PC measure that hasn’t had an unintended negative consequence to it brought on by human nature.

  26. A happy green parrot says: Mar 26, 2017 10:21 AM

    I dont see this slowing the game down too much. Just challenging to see if it sticks will not work out so coaches wont be prone that way. And its never made sense to me limiting legitimate challenges, a bad call is a bad call. Its ok to pause a game in the spirit of getting it right. Those worried about quality of officiating should actually like this because any official that was making a lot of mistakes would get exposed as he gets called out over and over.

  27. patriots123456 says: Mar 26, 2017 10:22 AM

    There should be a way to challenge the Commissioner when he incorrectly suspends someone.

    I’m talking about someone other than him making the appeal decisions….

  28. streetyson says: Mar 26, 2017 10:29 AM

    footballboozer says:
    Mar 26, 2017 9:43 AM
    Bill Belichick suggested this years ago and the NFL said no way. Now, Danny (small man syndrome) Snynder wants it and its a great idea. It’s not the first time either, Belichick is light years ahead of the dopes who run this league!
    I think Belichick said make every play challengeable, not allow unlimited challenges. In SB51 Belichick went crazy because the refs incorrectly blew the Pats for illegal formation when McClellin successfully leap-frogged the Falcons’ line to block a scoring kick. And the refs somehow missed a Falcon pulling a Pats helmet right off via grabbing the facemask. Anyway, you are very right of course that the NFL won’t do anything Belichick suggests.

  29. bert1913 says: Mar 26, 2017 10:33 AM

    ol holding is going to make for long games

  30. jag1959 says: Mar 26, 2017 10:54 AM

    Teams should have as many challenges as they have timeouts to risk and everything should be subject to a challenge. All replay reviews should be done by an onsite eye in the sky video official that is part of the officiating crew in constant communication with the ref not some league minion in NY. That official wshould have the ability to buzz the ref to throw a flag as well. There is no longer any excuse for wrong or missed calls and extended reviews when we can see it all on our TVs at home within seconds of the end of a play.

  31. R2Mog says: Mar 26, 2017 11:01 AM

    Have you heard the one about the lady ref who threw a flag for something that happened two years ago?

  32. twincities90210 says: Mar 26, 2017 11:01 AM

    You should be able to challenge blown calls or bad calls made by the refs trying to rig the games.

  33. macdaddyspeed says: Mar 26, 2017 11:07 AM

    Because of Hi Def, slow mo replays, the NFL has had to micro-define the definition of a catch, and it still can’t get it right. Can you imagine the micro-definitions of pass interference, holding, etc? Please no. replay will jump the shark at some point.

  34. walker1191 says: Mar 26, 2017 11:16 AM

    cubancigar10 says:
    Mar 26, 2017 9:12 AM

    Full-time refs and get rid of instant replay. Ruins the flow of the game.
    Ridiculous. Having a system to fix obvious mistakes has been a huge success, though obviously it could be streamlined.

    If you disagree, I assume you never watched a game prior to 1986 and saw some absurd call that could not be changed.

  35. holidlove says: Mar 26, 2017 11:20 AM

    I think this makes a lot of sense. If a coach gets three challenges overturned, due to clear-cut errors, why not give him another one? Not to fault the officials or anything–there’s a lot to see and/or miss–but it isn’t the coach’s fault. So, if something else happens later in the game (say, with 2:30 left in the 4th), the guy can’t challenge it because earlier he used them up? As much as I don’t want to have more down time, this makes too much sense.

    That said, as mentioned above, they won’t do it.

  36. exinsidetrader says: Mar 26, 2017 11:28 AM

    Offensive Holding and Pass Interference calls are the two primary means by which corrupted officials influence games.

  37. firedog784 says: Mar 26, 2017 11:34 AM

    Would much rather keep the same amount challenges but expand them to include any play when a flag is thrown. I think this is something that Belichick brought up a few years ago on a couple of occasions but the league never adopted it.

    Expanding the challenges won’t slow the game down one bit as long as the amount of challenges per game remains the same.

    Nothing worse than 5o yard gain on a bogus pass interference call.

  38. jackedupboonie says: Mar 26, 2017 11:43 AM

    I recall Pete having to challenge 2 spots in the first quarter last season winning both…leaving him with 1 ‘awarded extra’ for the rest of the game. Look, if you are getting hosed, it only makes sense to be able to keep correcting them.

  39. autumnwind999 says: Mar 26, 2017 11:48 AM

    This is a no-brainer. So, knowing the NFL, it probably won’t pass.

    It would be an extremely rare situation where a team would even have an opportunity to use that 4th challenge so I don’t see any real impact on game times. However, I could see it eventually happening in a big game where a bad call can’t be reviewed after a team has already had three successful challenges. Not very likely, especially since scoring plays and turnovers don’t require a challenge, but it could happen. No reason not to have this in place.

  40. hobiecat1 says: Mar 26, 2017 11:53 AM

    Unlimited challenges. Failed challenges result in a 15 yard penalty and a fifteen second clock runoff.

  41. harrisonhits2 says: Mar 26, 2017 12:16 PM

    “I don’t think full time officials will be any better at making calls than part time officials. What are they going to do with all those hours to fill? Study the rule book? Okay. Watch hours upon hours of film? Okay.”

    Totally disagree.

    They use gotomeeting or some other online meeting place and all officials collectively watch each game from the previous week, and in the offseason any game where there was any sort of controversy over calls.

    In doing so the goal is to get consistency between crews across all the refs. And to learn to avoid the glaring mistakes they often make. Just like the players study film, all refs will have to as well.

    Over time this should lead to a significant improvement in the refs.

  42. dannyabramowitz says: Mar 26, 2017 12:18 PM

    I took my kids to a Texas high school football game last fall and it was extremely enjoyable. No replay reviews, no TV timeouts, just play after play of FOOTBALL. The NFL, in its attempt to obtain a perfectly-called game, has lost sight of the fact that the actual GAME is the most important thing. Replay doesn’t reduce controversy, we have the same amount, if not more, than we had before. I think we should give the game back to the officials and do away with replay. Learn to live with the call (like we did for 50 years) and move on to the next play.

  43. twinfan24 says: Mar 26, 2017 12:25 PM

    nyneal says:
    Mar 26, 2017 9:11 AM
    Pete Carroll will challenge every play.
    Not if he’s wrong. Did you actually read the entire thing? Sure doesn’t look like it.

  44. rexryansboobs says: Mar 26, 2017 12:42 PM

    If the pace is slowed and the game is lengthened to make sure that the calls are right, I am all for changing the policy

    If the pace is slowed and the game is lengthened to make sure that I see another car commercial, I am all for changing the channel

  45. tb12eatitbitches says: Mar 26, 2017 12:42 PM

    I don’t get the whole full-time ref crap. You can’t teach stuipd & having them full-time won’t help that.

  46. theaveragecharlie says: Mar 26, 2017 1:12 PM

    I thought the NFL wanted to speed games up.

  47. sparty0n says: Mar 26, 2017 1:14 PM

    Why not allow challenges as long as a team has a time out, whether successful or not?

  48. tonebones says: Mar 26, 2017 1:20 PM

    NFLexpert says:
    Mar 26, 2017 9:32 AM
    And another thing. Never allow 2 women officials to work a game together. Once they start talking the game will go on forever

    Not necessarily. Just tell them they get to go shopping as soon as the game is over, and that will be the shortest game on record.

  49. realtruthteller100 says: Mar 26, 2017 3:28 PM

    hopefully this will slow down the ggame a bit from its brakeneck pace and allow the league to get a little more ad revenue.

  50. dirt2013 says: Mar 26, 2017 3:51 PM

    Making the game shorter no doubt.Sigh

  51. mysterytonite says: Mar 26, 2017 4:32 PM

    With the advancements of technology there is no excuse to almost ever miss a call. However, the corrupt NFL is in bed with Vegas and the only things by they can do to ensure to fix as many games as they can is to make inconsistent, vague rules leftopen to interpretation by part time officials. they want them Part times not because they don’t want to pay them (although that’s what they want you to believe) but to plead incompetence when they blow obvious calls. The game is too profitable to not have the best of everything so the corrupt puppet commish job is to keep everything in line and everyone happy. The owners, Vegas and then the fans a distant 3rd.

  52. bondlake says: Mar 26, 2017 4:37 PM

    So, just to make sure I understand:

    In an attempt to shorten game times, the NFL decides to shorten the halftime break – – – a break which players need to gather themselves, perhaps recover physically, and refresh.

    Now the NFL decides it may want to allow unlimited challenges. Doesn’t this run counter to their plan to shorten game times?

    Who is running this circus, anyway?

  53. Lori M says: Mar 26, 2017 4:52 PM

    Every play should be available to challenge.

    Coaches should have unlimited challenges.

    If a team has used all of their timeouts they can still challenge but an unsuccessful challenge with no timeouts would draw an unsportsmanlike conduct call and a 15 yard penalty.

  54. denverscott says: Mar 26, 2017 5:10 PM

    Raise your hand if you realize that it’s the owners that pass rule changes, not Goodell. So who’s responsible for the rules? Anyone?

  55. bigdog2372 says: Mar 26, 2017 6:14 PM

    GOOD! This is a rule change that actually makes sense.

  56. ibillwt says: Mar 26, 2017 7:19 PM

    Belichick told them how to handle challenges a long time ago and repeatedly; the rules committee always has to wait 5 years to deny it was his idea and then they screw it up anyway thinking they have something to add.

  57. vavikingfan says: Mar 26, 2017 7:28 PM

    Can you imagine how many commercials the NFL could get in.

  58. rje49 says: Mar 26, 2017 8:29 PM

    So, making the game time shorter would be more important than having incorrect, and possibly critically important, calls by officials?

  59. johnthorpe says: Mar 27, 2017 1:27 AM

    Calling it unlimited is a little misleading, because after the first one, every challenge flag is do or die.

  60. madddogg365 says: Mar 29, 2017 11:46 AM

    Until it slows down Dictator Goodell’s games………

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