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 NFL.com 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.