It’s clear and obvious that NFL is ignoring the “clear and obvious” standard

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When the NFL decided to make the final decisions on replay review at 345 Park Avenue, the NFL employed Dean Blandino as the person responsible for making those decisions. And Blandino, who never worked as an official, had a proven ability to watch replays through the lens not of whether the ruling on the field was correct, but whether it was clear and obvious that the ruling was wrong.

It’s now becoming clear and obvious that Al Riveron, a former on-field official, is not applying the “clear and obvious” standard on a consistent basis. The latest example comes from the touchdown catch by Bears tight end Zach Miller that after further review was changed to an incompletion.

Both Blandino and fellow former V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira strongly criticized the decision, with Blandino saying that the replay evidence was sufficiently clear and obvious to justify a reversal from incomplete to complete and Pereira being much more pointed with his what’s-the-world-coming-to?-style assessment of the decision to take a touchdown off the board.

Riveron has explained the decision in a video posted by the league. Here’s what he said: “As we see here, the receiver’s up in the air. As he’s coming down, right there, the ball is loose. Now we know that before he contacts the ground he must regain control of the football, because the ball is loose. As he’s coming down, one more time we see the ball loose. Right here, the ball is loose. And now we’re looking for the ball to make sure it does not hit the ground because we know he does not have control. As we move forward, there’s the ball, the ball is on the ground. We know he did not regain control. Therefore it’s an incomplete pass regardless of what happens after this. So even when he rolls over, that doesn’t count. We already have an incomplete pass, the play is over.”

Although Riveron continues to deliver his explanations and assessments in authoritative and persuasive fashion, his words often don’t mesh with the video. In this case, assessments of the ball being loose and, most importantly, the ball touching the ground aren’t corroborated by the actual evidence.

At a minimum, a close and careful squint is required in order to even begin to give Riveron the benefit of the doubt on his assessment that the ball touched the ground. (Even then, it’s hard to see what he claims to see.) Thus, if “clear and obvious” evidence is needed to overturn a ruling on the field, squinting shouldn’t be needed to see the evidence that is supposed to be clear and obvious.

The only thing currently clear and obvious is that the league has a problem regarding one of its most important functions, and that the league needs to fix it immediately.

44 responses to “It’s clear and obvious that NFL is ignoring the “clear and obvious” standard

  1. What we have now in the reviews is the most insidious of situations.

    When the official in the game made the call, the buck stopped with him; if he was incompetent like Jeff Triplette, Ed Hockuli, or Jerome Boogers, the incompetence was contained to one game.

    Now we have incompetence in every game that has a review.

    Either you have someone who is a documented top ten official and pay him well, or you eliminate the National review and allow the game official to contain the incompetence to one game.

  2. He either has ties to the mafia, or this is the worst case of cover-your-arse I’ve ever seen. The video clearly shows that Miller is in complete control of the ball while falling to the ground… does the ball touch the ground? I couldn’t tell, and neither could that idiot.

  3. It is “clear & obvious” that this needs to be addressed; however, this has been happening for years and the ratings have remained strong, nonetheless. The Anthem and Flag issue is sending the NFL down the toilet, and should be the first issue that should be rectified. Goodell is NOT a leader, is totally out of tune with the fans, and is thus, not competent enough to have the reins of the NFL!!

  4. Glad this was finally written about. It’s ridiculous the amount of overturned calls where there was NOT clear and definitive proof to over turn….

  5. Sounds like somebody had the Saints D on their fantasy team. (That felt odd to type given the Saints D recent history).

  6. The ball moving does not necessarily mean the ball is loose. One can have control and move the ball around. And the point where he says the ball is touching the ground, you only see part of the ball and that visible part is NOT touching the ground (so how can he claim to see the ball touching the ground?). His explanation makes it even worse. That was a touchdown.

  7. No dog in this particular fight …. but this Alberton guy is all WET! Ball isn’t lose, ball doesn’t hit the ground, who the hell knows what he’s pointing too in the third point of explanation, maybe the laces on the ball, but you sure couldn’t tell from his 1969 TV, and I sure couldn’t see it on my Jumbo set. Really sux, especially with the poor guy severing his femoral artery!

  8. The NFL has become the new MLB. The games are SO SLOW! The first half of games are sometimes played at an impossibly slow rate of play. They jam so many commercials in between plays that i can no longer pay attention to the game at hand.

  9. I for one stand in my living (or man cave), hand on heart every time the anthem comes on . . . hoho of course I don’t (and I’m a veteran) I go for a beer or I go to the can, just the rest of the armchair patriots out there complaining about players kneeling.

  10. brendafortheboyz says:
    November 2, 2017 at 12:08 pm
    It is “clear & obvious” that this needs to be addressed; however, this has been happening for years and the ratings have remained strong, nonetheless. The Anthem and Flag issue is sending the NFL down the toilet, and should be the first issue that should be rectified. Goodell is NOT a leader, is totally out of tune with the fans, and is thus, not competent enough to have the reins of the NFL!!

    —————

    Since when do fans care who the commissioner of a sport is. Goodell has been too visible from the beginning. He’s like a reality show. They need a new more “in the background” commissioner that is just all business.

    As for the NFL, ratings may be down but it couldn’t be farther from a disaster. It’s still the most popular sport by far and given how much ratings are down on all primetime TV, I don’t think you can say it’s only the Anthem protests, although I agree that is part of it.

  11. One of the things that’s become evident from Riveron’s reviews is he starts with the premise that a moving ball is a loose one and therefore it’s clear and obvious (to him) the catch has not yet been made or needs to be reestablished. I think he misses as much as he hits but at least he is consistent with his approach whereas it always seemed Blindino’s vantage point changed with the wind.

  12. One gets the sense that those at the league office have a very difficult time admitting their mistakes. Considering Roger Goodell is running that office, this comes as little surprise.

    This was a blown call, and at some point it would be nice to see the league act professionally enough to at least admit it. Ed Hochuli, several years ago, took a lot of heat for a premature whistle that negated what would have been a fumble recovery, mistakenly calling it an incomplete pass. He at least had the intestinal fortitude to admit, over the mic and in front of the crowd and TV audience, that he had messed up.

    While no one likes to see the mistakes, an acknowledgement of them would at least get the league to realize that better standards are needed to get these calls right. But you can’t fix a problem you refuse to admit exists.

  13. I was going to order Papa Johns pizza, but canceled my order after watching this incompetent Schmuck make up stuff. Same thing on Jets TD. He’s clueless.

  14. Refs were bad when the league office was not involved.

    The inclusion of the league office making the final decision on many of these calls have led to at best incompetence on an even more horrendous level than the on field officials, and at worst extensive corruption.

    That’s Roger Goodell’s National Integrity League in a nutshell. Incompetence on a massive scale combined with selective corruption.

    The best solution is go back to the old standard = ball is caught, take 2 steps or make a football move and its a catch. It was simple, easy to see, didn’t rely on tiny movements that are seen in 1/30th of a second video frames, and everybody understood it.

  15. Truthfully, as long as the refs cheat in my favor, I’m good with it. I love Pizza Hut.

  16. This reminds me of criminal lawyers and their ‘reasonable doubt’ explanations. Just because you can concoct some outlandish alternate scenario doesn’t mean it’s ‘reasonable’. Same with this jabroni’s explanation.

  17. Why doesn’t he just come out and say, “We can’t have any more controversy, the NFL is drowning in it and I have to support that narritive. Oh, plus the Bears would have then covered the spread; we can’t have that either.”

  18. The NFL started ignoring “clear and obvious” on Day 1 of replay and it’s only gotten worse since. The majority of overturns are now moving from one “maybe” to a different “maybe.” And that absolutely kills people’s confidence in the whole system. Just listen to how commentators talk about even the clearest of replays–nobody wants to say anything is definitive, instead they openly speculate over which of the myriad of contradicting rules MIGHT come into play. It makes the entire sport seem shady like it’s all smoke and mirrors.

  19. all of these catch rules are just plain stupid.
    SIMPLIFY IT!
    Does the ball hit the ground? yes = no catch, no = catch!
    i’m sick and tired of refs throwing games.

    simplify ALL the rules so there is no ambiguity.

  20. I don’t know what part of the rule says that the ball can’t move a little while the receiver is falling to the ground, but they need to remove it from the rules.

    I can maybe understand if a guy is going out of bounds, but when you land square in the end zone, it’s ridiculous.

  21. The problem isn’t the “what”. The problem is the “who”. If the Cowboys, Seakhawks, Steelers, Packers, or Patriots made that catch, it’d have been a TD.

  22. It’s clear and simple to me. This guy, Riveron should be fired and fined. That is the lamest excuse I have ever heard. The guy should be looked into for illegal gambling. That is the only excuse this guy could use to justify what he say’s he saw.

  23. Al Riveron was not a good official when he was working on the field and now we see that carries over to his work in the league office. When you have both Periera and Blandino saying you made the wrong decision, you probably made the wrong decision.

  24. tommyribs says:
    November 2, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Goodell has actually destroyed the NFL.
    ———————-

    And it only took 10 years.

  25. packerenglishmajor says:
    November 2, 2017 at 12:31 pm
    I for one stand in my living (or man cave), hand on heart every time the anthem comes on . . . hoho of course I don’t (and I’m a veteran) I go for a beer or I go to the can, just the rest of the armchair patriots out there complaining about players kneeling.
    ———————————————-
    You can always do what you want, but in this instance you aren’t required to do anything by the US Flag Code. You aren’t ‘present’ at the playing of the Anthem when you are at home. Everyone in the stadium is ‘present’ but not people outside who may hear it in the parking lot for instance.
    You were just trying to make a stupid point that somehow people who aren’t supporting the NFL, players, and their sponsors are somehow wrong or hypocritical and you failed miserably. As a veteran you should have known, but probably did that job as well as you tried this.

  26. harrisonhits2 says:
    November 2, 2017 at 12:51 pm
    Refs were bad when the league office was not involved.

    The inclusion of the league office making the final decision on many of these calls have led to at best incompetence on an even more horrendous level than the on field officials, and at worst extensive corruption.

    That’s Roger Goodell’s National Integrity League in a nutshell. Incompetence on a massive scale combined with selective corruption.

    The best solution is go back to the old standard = ball is caught, take 2 steps or make a football move and its a catch. It was simple, easy to see, didn’t rely on tiny movements that are seen in 1/30th of a second video frames, and everybody understood it.

    And as video evidence has proven, many “catches” were not catches at all. What you are endorsing is a “close enough” doctrine. Optionally we cold eliminate all replays. On the jumbotron, on tv, anywhere. Then we’d be back to the good old days when everyone thought they knew better than the blind refs who called games back then.

    There is no perfect system.

  27. Who cares anymore? They’ve turned this game into nothing but advertisement, 4 hour commitment, political showcase, and an autocratic leadership or 1 person is judge, jury, and executioner.

    No thanks NFL

  28. Can you imagine if the NY office of replay went back and ruled on all the “great plays” of years gone by. We probably would have never gotten interested in football, because many of the greatest moments (catches, TD’s, INT’s etc.) would have been reversed.

    There will be mistakes, perfect is a bad goal. Let the on field officials make the call. They have the context of the situation.

  29. Like it or not, but the fact is that they got it right. It was not a catch. Believe me I am NOT a fan of instant reply.

  30. wait… so you are saying the NFL swings favor towards certain teams and not others?!?!?!
    This must be an extremely new behavior from a disgruntled employee. I have never seen evidence of this before!!

  31. The reason instant replay exists is to review the ruling on the field and if it defies the eye test, overturn it. Instant reply is not intended to micro-analyze every play and find a reason to overturn it. This is a perception problem for the league. Before instant replay was used, the league had to fight the perception of poor officiating when commentators and fans perceived the result differently than the ruling on the field. So you develop instant replay to give the league a real-time opportunity to, when appropriate, ensure that the outcome of the play and as a result, the game, are aligned with the expectation of the consumer, the fan.

    What is happening today with instant replay is a micro-analysis that only serves to further alienate the fan base by further reinforcing to the fans that the game does not reflect their expectations as consumer.

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