Sunday Night Football producer explains absence of replay on Vick pick

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We’ve been peppered with emails and Twitter questions regarding a comment made Monday by Eagles coach Andy Reid regarding his decision not to challenge the ruling that Falcons defensive back Kelvin Hayden had intercepted a pass thrown by Philly quarterback Mike Vick in Sunday night’s loss at Atlanta.  Reid, who typically keeps the red flag tucked deep in his pocket, said he didn’t throw it in that instance because his staff didn’t get a second look at the play.

“Well there was no replay for us to look at, and I actually had the people from the broadcast apologize, send me an email and apologize on that, but listen, that’s hindsight now,” Reid said.

Reid is right, for the most part.  NBC generated a replay.  Actually, NBC generated multiple replay angles.  But it was only after the window for challenging the play had closed (i.e., the next snap of the ball) that NBC detected an angle that would have triggered a reversal of the play, if Reid had decided to throw the red flag.

Fred Gaudelli, the producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football and a long-time veteran of live pro football telecasts, explained the situation to PFT by phone on Monday afternoon.

Gaudelli said that, when he saw the play live, he immediately wondered whether Hayden had caught the ball cleanly.  And so Gaudelli ordered up immediately the angles that he thought would show whether the interception had indeed been made.

“We looked at the replays as fast as we could to show if he mantained possesion,” Gaudelli said.  He pointed out that, for a ball caught in the middle of the field that possibly was trapped, the best possible looks come from the cable cam, the low end zone camera, or the high end zone camera.  “The two low end zone cameras were blocked,” Gaudelli said, “and the high end zone camera was blocked by Hayden’s body.”

During the process of checking the replays, the Falcons smartly hustled to get the ball snapped, so that no review could be conducted.  Gaudelli said that 40 seconds elapsed before quarterback Matt Ryan got the next play started.  And two plays later, the Falcon had scored a touchdown.

After the touchdown, while the game was in a commercial break, Gaudelli decided to indulge his lingering curiosity.  “We checked the 45-degree angle from the opposite end of the field behind the Eagles offense,” Gaudelli said, “and it showed that [Hayden] didn’t catch the ball.”

Gaudelli knew at that point that the information needed to be shared with audience.  “The No. 1 objective was to get it right, even though it was going to bring warranted criticism,” Gaudelli said.

Given that 22 players and seven officials are on the field, there’s no guarantee that clear images will be available.  “There’s a certain amount of luck that’s involved,” Gaudelli said.

And so Gaudelli relied on his experience in ordering up the replay angles, his team did as much as they could with the 40 seconds that were available, and in the end they simply didn’t see the right angle until it was too late.

After the game, Gaudelli apologized for failing to get the fourth replay angle up sooner.  “I feel badly about it,” Gaudelli said.  “I would have sent that to any coach.”

Notwithstanding our partnership with (and my separate employment by) NBC, it’s easy to admire Gaudelli for showing on the air the definitive angle after it was too late for the Eagles to challenge the play, for apologizing to Reid for failing to show the definitive angle before the next snap, and for explaining the situation both to me and, separately, to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

52 responses to “Sunday Night Football producer explains absence of replay on Vick pick

  1. If you listen to some Eagles fans, which I had to at work today, you’d think that NBC was holding out on showing an angle of the Kennedy assisination.

  2. It’s still bogus. A replay system that hinges on the ability of network producers to find the correct angles in relative short order is obviously inherently flawed. Perhaps a replay official should buzz the field on questionable calls. In the interest of fairness and getting the call right, is there really a better solution?

  3. anyone else think it’s kind of weird that the production team for the game’s broadcast plays such a pivotal role in the flow/outcome of the game? Isn’t there a way to standardize that and put it in the hands of some kind of game official?

  4. I’m sorry, but I have to call you out on this one.

    There is absolutely no way you would have been this gracious to another network in a similar situation.

    40 seconds is a very long time. If you don’t think so, count to 40 in your head right now at a one second cadence.

    I’m not saying there is any type of conspiracy or anything, but they certainly deserve criticism for not finding the right replay in that amount of time, not what amounts to glowing praise from you.

  5. Sucky system. How about putting one official on each camera, and having all those guys in one booth so when they see their definitive replay it can be immediately brought to the attention of the lead replay official. Yes it would cost more, but come on, this is the NFL with billions of dollars. The Eagles got hosed…

  6. The officials were having a pretty good game until this. It clearly hit the ground and should have been reviewed immediately. Probably cost the Eagles the game.

  7. It just seems weird that NFL coaches have to rely on the television broadcast for replays. Why doesn’t the NFL require stadiums to automatically show a replay of every play right after it happens? You can’t tell me thats not possible with the high tech jumbo trons every stadium has.

  8. When will he explain Chris Collinsworth’s constant whining about penalties that aren’t called and hits that are, in his opinion, too hard? As soon as he starts the sound goes down and music goes on. Who needs him?

  9. As an Eagles fan and even though it’s too bad we didn’t see the replay, I admire Gaudelli for how he has handled the situation as well.

    I don’t think he owes an apology to anyone although he has shown he’s a stand-up guy.

  10. seems to me theres always replay problems in ATL….

    something like this happened in the game vs GB during the reg season

  11. As a life long Philly Fan, four for four, Thank-you but that is just football. It happens both ways, good with bad…… The Eagles played better most of the game, but it was the Falcons day, and they deserve the win. I hope we get to the playoffs for a rematch.

  12. Not every philly fan is whining about this as some of you seem to think. I honestly didn’t even read about this until this afternoon and have to agree that this system sucks. I never knew it was like this before. Really Reid should have challenged it anyways, Avant was telling him it was incomplete, sometimes you have to trust your players.

  13. I appreciate the thoughts from Gaudelli, but I found it highly questionable that the first three replays (30 seconds of time) of the play were actually focused on the pressure on Vick rather than the turnover. It’s still up to Reid to trust his judgement and the judgement of those around him, however.

    Time to prep for the Giants.

  14. Deadeye: Or perhaps have a replay screen on each sideline showing all possible camera angles at the same time, so that the coaches can make an informed decision. I think the NFL can do a lot of things to remedy this issue.

  15. Kind of silly not to have that replay at the ready….they sure were quick to show Dunta Robinsons hit on Desean Jackson a mere few seconds after his cheap shot on Maclin…….

  16. Hard to believe not one eagle was watching the ball. Not relevant here, but some teams use a team of 2 with one guy watching the broadcast and another using a high speed digital recorder.

  17. While it is terrible that NFL teams have to rely on network broadcasting for replays, I have no sympathy for the Eagles. I see so many calls go there way that its insane. How about the “roughing the passer” called on Abraham that gave you a TD? How about the roughing passer NOT called on Jenkins when he jumped and lead his helmet into Matt Ryans face? And their fans still bitch and moan when ONE THING doesnt go their way. Refs miss things, their human. Cry about it some more, you lost, get over it.

  18. Absolute BS. This post represents the very height of sycophantism. As has been stated, if this were another corporate sports media outlet, you know you wouldn’t be stroking this guy for such an egregious, avoidable error.

  19. bigslizzle4twizzle, Samuel’s interception touched the ground after he already controlled it, which is why the call was upheld! Understand the rules before posting, thanks.

  20. It’s crazy how they had like a mega-zoom option for the replays of T.G.’s touchdown catch, also for Asante’s interception that got challenged. But the pick that was clearly not a INT, no such thing. It’s whatever though, the Eagles didn’t deserve that game with all the mistakes they made, but we were also clearly the better team.

  21. Maybe if they weren’t so busy criticizing Vick they could have found a better angle. Yet when Ryan threw his second pick it was all about how good the catch was and showing it from every angle possible.

  22. Why doesn’t the NFL require stadiums to automatically show a replay of every play right after it happens? You can’t tell me thats not possible with the high tech jumbo trons every stadium has.

    There was a replay, and jumbotrons do show the replay almost all of the time, the article says that they didn’t find the right one in time.

    This was a game changing moment, Eagles were the better team.

  23. Just payback from the refs blown call in 2009, when they said Harry Douglas touched the punt that landed 5 yards away from him.

    I’ll echo what Philly fans said then.. “It’s all part of the game.” At least you guys had a chance to throw the flag.

  24. Falcons are the better bird. Eagles should blame Reid if he though even a 10% chance it was not a catch he should have thrown the flag. Then the officials would have waited for the right footage but this one is on Reid.

  25. jpb12 says:

    Good thing ESPN didn’t screw up this badly.

    Bang … zoooom! Nice hit 🙂

  26. all the other coaches in the league seem to be able to work around this issue, but Andy Reid and the Eagles alone are treated unfairly. I can’t believe one team has been targeted by the NFL, CIA, NBC, FBI, WWF, ATF, WTO, and PBS like the Eagles have for over 50 years. It is just so unfair.

  27. Coming from a non-Eagle fan but a football fan nonetheless — the instant that play occurred and based on the trajectory of Vick’s throw — it was easy to sniff out the fact that was very unlikely to be a legit interception. I was like WTF is Reid thinking letting ATL get a snap off???

    Point being: Replay was NOT needed, though it’d have been nice — but very high likelihood of establishing a bad on-field call should have been detected WITHOUT the benefit of replay.

    The pivotal nature of the play coupled with how Haden was in low scoop position rather than catch position made it obvious to wing out the red flag.

    That’s on Reid and staff for having a nice mixture of no nuts, no common sense and no understanding of multiple football concepts.

    P.S. I don’t give a crap about the post-play replay factor. Reid blew it. However, this would have all been unnecessary had the officials on the field not crapped all over the call too — they were right there presumably WATCHING THE BALL, and they blew it. Blew it bad. Philly got jammed by idiocy from multiple sources.

  28. Shouldn’t have to apologize for anything, it’s not a broadcast producer’s responsibility to find the one angle of dozens that shows the play the way the Eagles needed. It’s Reid’s responsibility to take the gamble and throw the flag.

  29. This year coaches have to learn to be more liberal with the challenge flag. With all TDs being reviewed there is less need to keep a challenge in reserve for a crucial call late in the game – there may be a crucial turnover late but there won’t be a scoring play that gets by. Another alternative is all turnovers are reviewed – there’s maybe one or two of these that are at all controversial in a typical game.

  30. ncsteeler says:

    This year coaches have to learn to be more liberal with the challenge flag. With all TDs being reviewed …

    So you fell for that bit, too, huh? Well, we learned on Sunday that “all” is a relative term for Goodell’s guys.

  31. Maybe there should not be any replays until the next snap. I don’t think I like the idea of the networks effecting the on field game. Just doesn’t feel right.

  32. Please post this A** Clowns email address so that the City of Brotherly Love can show their appreciation. Although Ray Charles could see it was worth the red flag…Good Ol’ Andy.

  33. It should not be considered TV’s responsibility to help a team decide if they should challenge a play or not.

    TV’s job is to present the story of the game as it unfolds.

  34. Isn’t this the right time to disclose that NBC has a partnership with Home Depot to supply the products that keep NBC/Comcast offices up and running?

    Home Depot is owned by Falcons owner Arthur Blank. How convenient that 4th angle stayed out of the Eagles booth.

  35. Philly had more than their share of chances to win this game and not have one play determine the outcome. All you Eagles fans crying conspiracy need to fall back to reality. One play didn’t cost your team. It was all the other plays in the game that cost them.

  36. Can’t they pipe in all camera feeds to a bank of screens in each booth? Let a team representative check the replays via DVR and advise the head coach to challenge or not. The TV crews do a very good job but they should not be held to account for critical team decisions.

  37. 40 seconds is a very long time. If you don’t think so, count to 40 in your head right now at a one second cadence.

    I’m trying to imagine the activity in the production truck going through a whole bunch of camera angles (slow motion or freeze-framing) looking for the one that had the best look. 40 seconds probably seems a lot longer from the recliner in the living room.

    Of course, if it had been an afternoon game only televised regionally, they wouldn’t have nearly as many angles to review and might not have captured a definitive shot at all.

    Teams that routinely play regional-only games and almost never get national or primetime games probably all have stories of plays they would’ve challenged if they’d only had those extra camera angles (the best part is when the “unofficial” stadium cams happened to be in a better spot than the few network cameras, and can’t be used for official replay) — but it seems ridiculous to blame the networks in either case.

    If the NFL wanted to make it completely equitable, they would probably have to go to the lowest common denominator in the regular season, and only allow specific camera placements to be shown by the network on replays. That would suck for different reasons. So pick your poison.

  38. THROW THE FLAG…The biggest no call was R. White holding Samuel on that 65 yard run. Had it been called, turns into a 5 yard loss. Who knows what happens next. We know what happened though. Throw the flag Andy!!!!

  39. “it’s easy to admire Gaudelli for showing on the air the definitive angle after it was too late for the Eagles to challenge the play, for apologizing to Reid for failing to show the definitive angle before the next snap, and for explaining the situation both to me and, separately, to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.”
    It’s easy to admire???? PFT would never write that sentence if the game was on any other network.
    Nice article, sellouts

  40. To the first commentator: I think you’re lying. Everybody knows Eagles fans are perennially unemployed. So either you’re making up the “talking to Eagles fans” part or you really did it in the welfare office. You don’t have to embellish on an already tellable story, you know.


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