Pereira discusses goal-line cameras for review

On any given Sunday, there are about four goal-line plays where it’s impossible to see through the 5,000 pounds of human meat whether the ball broke the plane of the end zone.

So why aren’t cameras mounted at either end of the goal line in every stadium to help officials make those calls?

Mike Pereira, the NFL’s V.P. of Officiating, fielded that question from Rich Eisen of NFL Network during Total Access.  (You’ll have to check it out at since this portion of Pereira’s appearance wasn’t televised.)

The question was prompted by a call in the Texans-Jaguars game during which no clear replay angle showed whether or not Texans running back Chris Brown fumbled before or after crossing the plane of the goal line.  The ruling on the field of a fumble was upheld, and the Texans went on to lose to Jacksonville.   

Asked by Eisen if mounted goal-line cameras have been discussed, Pereira said, “We have [discussed them].  We’ve always talked about how we’ll work with television and what they have [available].  At this point we’re not installing our own cameras and it would not be right to say to TV that they have to have certain cameras in certain locations.  They too have a job to do and that’s to present the game the best they possibly can to the millions of people who are watching.”

In rolling the actual video that was reviewed, Pereira showed that officials did have one goal line angle.  But bodies obscured the ball rendering that angle “worthless.”

He added, “If we could get one on each side it would be great but we’re limited in that respect and we have to go with what we have.”

Which leads to this simple question. Why?  Why do they have to go with what they have?

In a league where million-dollar scoreboards hang like chandeliers in the middle of $1.2 billion stadiums and DirecTV has promised the league $4 billion from 2011 through 2014 whether there’s football being played or not, a few IT guys can’t be deployed to set up cameras that would help the officials be more certain whether or not guys scored touchdowns?

This is a drum that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick bangs every once in a while.  (I know, Belichick thinks cameras are the answer for EVERYTHING.)  He thinks there should be permanent cameras on the goal line, end line, and sidelines

Last November, Belichick said, “I don’t understand why we can’t put six cameras in every stadium and just say, ‘OK, here is where they are,’ whether the game’s a division championship game with 25 cameras [covering] it or whether it is a regular-season game with however many they have on that [game].”

Frankly, it makes too much sense.  And given that the NFL is run by some people who are generally pretty intelligent and must realize the same thing, there has to be some other dynamic at work.  Whatever that dynamic is, feel free to let us know.

36 responses to “Pereira discusses goal-line cameras for review

  1. In this day and age of cheap electronics, how about a chip in each end of the football and a magnetic strip on the goal line. Ball crosses, BEEEP. Problem solved.

  2. Pereira’s just a slapdick company man who talks out of both sides of his mouth virtually every day.
    He’s the #1 referee apologist, and a guy who makes it all up as he goes along pretty much every week.
    Why anyone pays him any mind is beyond me. Talk to Goodell, not to his trained poodle.

  3. Belichick has been promoting that since Ben Watson’s amazing play to run down Champ Bailey in the ’05 divisional playoffs, knocking the ball out through the end zone, which should have been a touchback. But since there was no goalline camera, the Broncos got a free touchdown out of it.
    It’s a head scratcher that the compeetition committee didn’t look at it then, and that nothing has changed.

  4. A lot of stadiums (Ford Field, Cowboys Stadium) could mount one camera directly above the middle of each goal line.

  5. I think about this all the time. There really is no answer for it.
    It happens ALL THE TIME and there are PERFECT solutions for it, all of which have been suggested before.
    1. Cameras along the goaline (maybe in the upper corner of the stadium, aligned with the goaline and back of the endzone?)
    2. Microchip in the ball and sensors along the line.
    The only feasible answer I can drum up as to why they haven’t done it, continually skirt the issue, and don’t provide easy solutions, is that the ambiguity allows them to throw games.
    I’m not a conspiracy theorist and I HATE them for the most part, but what other logical explanation is there?
    They want to be able to fudge things? They obviously don’t purposely set out to have their referees make bad calls, that only brings bad press.
    But decisions directed at making calls that could make the league more money?
    Either way, it’s an easy fix and should have been done years ago.

  6. I’ve always wondered why they don’t have cameras parallel with each sideline, each goal line, and at the back of each end zone. Or maybe cameras looking straight down at the field with a birdseye view. Not for the broadcast, but for getting instant replay right.

  7. Yeah, seriously, they could at least give a real reason. Every fan has been wondering the same thing since they reinstituted replay.

  8. A camera on either side, suspended from the ceiling or somewhere so that the goal-line judges don’t block the view would be a really simple thing to add. They could roll to a closed circuit loop that the TV’s don’t use (or they could if they wanted I guess) but are available instantly for replay. It can’t cost that much money, but my guess is that the refs see it as a slippery slope.
    Put cameras there and how long until someone suggest just using cameras to judge all first downs and the spots of all plays. Fewer refs would be needed, and the ones out there could just be watching for fouls.

  9. The games are fixed and they want to give the ref the ability to effect the game as much as possible! There’s your dynamic.
    Thats why they dont show replays on TV of most holding calls. Especially the ones that cost a team 50 yards on special teams. And no one seems to care.
    A little sensor could have been put in the ball years ago, the players wouldnt notice the difference – It should all be electronic.

  10. ” it would not be right to say to TV that they HAVE to have certain cameras in certain locations.”
    This is probably the most STUPID f’ing thing I have ever heard Pereira say.
    Would not be right ? WTF if part of what the tv shots are used for is to provide replays, then it damn well is right and proper to require them to provide camera angles that will provide crucial replay info.
    And if the networks don’t want to do so then the NFL damn well should have its own cams for goal line views or any other view deemed to be frequently necessary.
    I’ll be glad to see Pereira gone, hopefully they can find somebody with more smarts to replace him. What an idiot.

  11. Maybe the dynamic at play is:
    a) to protect referees on the other side of the play who make stupid calls?
    b) to prevent fans from seeing how the pileup on a fumbled ball results in the ball swapping possession long after the play is already dead?

  12. In regards to BB use of cameras please put it into perspective before casting stones at on man. Jimmy Johnson used them, Barry Switzer used them and most good coaches used them to gain a competitive advantage. They did not have the misfortune of having ungrateful, soon to be unemployed, former employees who cried to mommy, “Mommy- mommy make Billy stop looking at me”

  13. As has been hinted at, the technology exists to determine if the ball goes across. Whether it be chip/magnetic or other sensor or GPS. And I would think this would be cheaper than installing 65 cameras along every conceivable angle.

  14. Its obvious isn’t it? Pereira and others in the league offices MUST be REPLACED.

  15. Perhaps the NFL should talk to the casino industry about the cost/benefit relationship that cameras provide.

  16. Put little cameras in the pylons that mark the endzones. Two cameras in each, one across the field and one down the sideline would cover the edges of the endzone and field quite nicely.

  17. How about the NFL uses some of that $$ we fans pay to purchase some chipped balls (one at each pointed end) and sensors to determine without question whether a ball broke the plane of the goal line? That would allow the TV cameras to be placed where-ever the hell the TV people want, and everybodys happy. No more blown calls, less challenges=faster games, the list goes on and on. We’re not in the stone age anymore, so what gives?

  18. The networks already have 3 or 4 angles on the play. Exactly how will a goal line camera see through the bodies any easier? You would have to setup up several cameras and still may not get an answer.
    And the only people questioning Chris Brown’s fumble reside in Houston. It looked like a fumble from every angle I saw.
    I doubt the validity of using GPS, etc to make the call. GPS technology is only accurate to a few feet from the location. Nowhere close enough to be more accurate than the human eye or camera lens. Magnetic fields? It would vary from ball to ball. An object’s magnetic field extends outward from the object so it could easily register as a touchdown just by getting close enough to the endzone to set off the sensor. You could never be sure that any technology wouldn’t malfunction especially in a ball that takes that much abuse. The first time it malfunctioned when a replay is obviously conclusive would be the last time you saw it used in a game.

  19. It’s simple why the NFL front office has done nothing about this. It’s not significant.
    They have more important things to do…like levying heavy fines on players who celebrate a touchdown in an unacceptable manner. Or wear unacceptable uniform accoutrements. You know the really important stuff.
    The outcome of a game on a blown call?, when technology can be implemented to correct the problem? Now that is insignificant in Roger Goodell’s NFL.

  20. CliveRush says:
    October 1, 2009 4:56 PM
    In regards to BB use of cameras please put it into perspective before casting stones at on man. Jimmy Johnson used them, Barry Switzer used them and most good coaches used them to gain a competitive advantage. They did not have the misfortune of having ungrateful, soon to be unemployed, former employees who cried to mommy, “Mommy- mommy make Billy stop looking at me”
    Same ol Pats fan response.
    “Jimmy Johnson did it, Barry Switzer did it, Everybody else was doing it”
    My gosh dude, for the 20 millionth time. Goodell issued a memo before the season started, oulining new policy to EVERY team. Yet Belicheat was the ONLY, I repeat, ONLY damn coach to “misinterpet” the new rules.
    You can cry “everyone was doing it” till you vomit up your sushi, but the fact remains that NOBODY cheated after the new policy was put in place………EXCEPT, BELICHEAT!
    I know, I know,,,, “Mommy – mommy make people quit calling the Patriots cheaters”

  21. How about taking it a step further and just issue helmet cams on every player. You’ll have every angle you’d ever need and then some. Of course the NFL probably doesn’t want half the crap that actually happens on the field to ever be recorded, much less broadcasted.

  22. @ Child_Please!
    That’s old news. the 2009 season is underway.
    Why waste (y)our time with something that’s been rehashed 1000x over?

  23. There are two answers to this question. The first is that the league is afraid of technology, and always has been. The second is that the league refuses to spend money, even on good ideas. Heck, they could even pay for these cameras by offering the networks access to the video if they pony up some money.
    They SHOULD do this. There is no reason the league can not have its own cameras. The Networks should be doing this already, as it could be an advertising gimmick (real goal line view).
    The other thing the league should be doing is hiring full time refs. This part time crap is for the birds, and gives us crappy officiating.
    Who says the league is run by smart people? They have been making really stupid decisions for years. They don’t get these positions because they are smart. They get them because they have connections. That gets you stupid people at the top.

  24. “Microchip in the ball and sensors along the line.”
    I’ve seen this before, but it couldn’t possibly work. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips have to be “read” by a reader. There is an antenna or multiple antennas that will read the chip once it is within range. Some chips have a range of around 20 feet. Others have a range of about one foot or less. The problem is, if there are antennas embedded beneath the field of play directly below the goal line, the microchip embedded within the ball might not be read at all because the ball wasn’t close enough to the ground. Or, the chip in the ball could be read a foot from the goal line. It all depends upon the read range of the chip. There is no technology using a computer chip which can determine when a chip has crossed a plane. It is either within reading range or it is not.
    The only solution is for multiple cameras, perhaps two along each side of the field, one closer to field level and one elevated above field level, and perhaps two or more cameras pointing down along the goal line from above. If one of the ground-level cameras has a good angle, but is temporarily blocked by a sideline judge, then the elevated camera along the same sideline should pick up the view. If neither camera can catch a good angle, then possibly one of the overhead cameras might “see” it.
    But, a computer chip in either side of the ball will definitely not work.

  25. How the heck would microchips in the football help?!? That isn’t gonna tell anyone when the players knee hit the ground, or at what point a player started to loose control of the ball. Cameras are needed regardless, microchips aren’t going to solve anything.

  26. Those of you proclaiming “chip” technology as the savior haven’t thought this through. Even if the ball crosses the goal line, who is to say the runner had control when the ball crossed the goal line? It might add some certainty to some plays, but cameras need to be the ultimate solution.
    That or you’d have to put some sort of RFID chip in all the players gloves and pressure sensitive sensors in the ball. Each player would have a unique RFID # in their gloves and it’d take a lot of guess work out that way.
    See I have thought about this before.

  27. You guys are ridiculous. You’re telling me we can send a satellite to Pluto, but we can’t put a microchip in a football?
    Using the parlance of our times, CHILD PLEASE.
    As for the “the chip can’t tell if the knee is down/if he had possession,” argument, there are still cameras, there is still instant replay.
    You combine the two, dummies. You can throw out any possible combination of crazy factors, but if you use technology to absolutely tell you if the ball crosses the line, then you have one less thing to worry about.

  28. touchdowntrabo says: October 1, 2009 7:16 PM
    You guys are ridiculous. You’re telling me we can send a satellite to Pluto, but we can’t put a microchip in a football?
    Yes, I’m telling you that.
    Draw a circle. Then put a small dot in the middle of that circle. From the small dot, draw a line straight up to the top of that circle. Then, one third of the way above the small dot in the center of the circle, draw a horizontal line.
    The horizontal line is the ground. The small dot is the antenna embedded below the ground. The line from the dot to the top of the circle is the goal line at the intersection of the horizontal line drawn one third of the way up from the small dot. The circle is the complete area from which an antenna can “sense” a microchip. Therefore, once the microchip is within the read range of the antenna, it will signal a touchdown. Even if the ball has not crossed the goal line.
    Have yourself a fine day!

  29. By the way, for those who think about the fact that an antenna will read a chip from any direction as long as it is within the read range, and then think “Well, we cut the read range down so that it can only read the chip when it’s within an in or so of the goal line!”, please remember, touchdowns that are disputed and which cannot visibly be seen aren’t necessarily those where the runner is close to the ground. Sometimes, a running back and those blocking for him become a mass of humanity against another mass of humanity trying to prevent the touchdown and the running back is in the middle of that mass, being stood up by the defense.
    But, if you say, increase the read range of the antenna so that it can read a chip in a ball 4 feet above the ground, then the read range increases in all directions an equal amount, so the runner could be at the 1-yard line and the microchip is “read” and a touchdown is scored.
    Using a computer chip embedded within a football cannot work because an antenna will bring in any signal within the sphere of its read range.

  30. Screw the cameras. They could easily use GPS technology to tell EXACTLY if the ball crossed the goal line or where to EXACTLY place it after each play.
    Players don’t still wear leather helmets without face masks. Why are they still measuring first downs with two sticks and a chain?

  31. “(I know, Belichick thinks cameras are the answer for EVERYTHING.) ”
    haha, that was awesome tom.
    “Ca_Viking says:
    October 1, 2009 4:20 PM
    In this day and age of cheap electronics, how about a chip in each end of the football and a magnetic strip on the goal line. Ball crosses, BEEEP. Problem solved.”
    that wouldn’t work simply because players can extend the ball across the line after they’re “down” or after a fumble. that won’t necessarily tell you everything. the cameras – that just has to be the answer. no reason we can’t put cameras on the endzones if we can put them OVER the huddle for cryin out loud. come on NFL!

  32. hayward giablommi says: October 1, 2009 5:54 PM
    @ Child_Please!
    That’s old news. the 2009 season is underway.
    Why waste (y)our time with something that’s been rehashed 1000x over?
    Mentioning BB’s cheating ways – tired and over.
    Whining incessantly over and over again about people making those comments – timeless.

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