Despite two of his predecessors strenuously objecting, NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron continues to insist that the decision to overturn a touchdown catch from Bears tight end Zach Miller was the right one.
In the weekly officiating video disseminated for use by the media, Riveron (without addressing the opinions of former Vice Presidents of officiating Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino) reviewed the same aspects of the play that he reviewed earlier this week in a separate video televised by NFL Network. And the biggest flaw in the analysis continues to be Riveron’s insistence that clear and obvious evidence exists to show that the ball touched the ground at a time when it was not firmly in Miller’s possession.
Freezing the frame at a spot that requires the viewer to lean forward and squint, Riveron says, “The tip of the ball is on the ground; therefore, it’s an incomplete pass.” Maybe I need glasses or a monocle or a microscope, but I don’t see the tip of the ball touching the ground — at all. And I definitely don’t see clear and obvious evidence of the tip of the ball touching the ground.
It’s unclear why Riveron continues to insist that the visual evidence shows something that it doesn’t. The problem is that, when it comes to replay review, Riveron is the one who is reviewing his own work, making it highly unlikely that he’s going to say that he got it wrong in real time, because if he can’t be relied upon to get it right in real time, he shouldn’t be the one on whom the league relies to get it right in real time.
It’s a critical flaw in a process that was designed for Blandino, who never worked as a game official and who in turn would have had no temptation to abandon the “clear and obvious evidence” standard and supply his own judgment. Even in this case, however, Riveron’s own judgment seems to be flatly inaccurate.
Publicly, there’s no one from the league who is in position to admit that Riveron got it wrong. Privately, here’s hoping the NFL is addressing these procedures, because the Miller play suggests that the process is far more of a crapshoot than it ever should be.