Replay could be heading to central location, eventually


With the NFL’s officiating function under siege, a key change could be looming.

Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, the Competition Committee’s annual offseason discussions regarding officiating have in recent years included a conversation about removing the instant replay function from the game site and transferring it to a central location — presumably to the league office in New York City.

That possibility is expected to be on the offseason agenda once again.

Peter King of explained during Football Night in America that, apart from a desire to avoid the kind of head-scratching decision made by referee Jeff Triplette in Cincinnati on Sunday, the move would help trim the total time of NFL games.

We made that case back in January of 2012.  Plenty of time currently is wasted with the dog-and-pony show that currently unfolds on the playing field, with the referee trotting to the sideline, donning the Dukakis-in-the-tank headset, talking to the guys upstairs before the replays are shown, getting under the hood to watch the various replays, emerging from the mobile booth to have more discussions, determining the precise ball placement if necessary, informing one or both coaches about the decision, trotting back to the field, and explaining the outcome to the rest of the world.

The mistake made Sunday by Triplette, who overturned a call on the field of no touchdown without indisputable visual evidence, resulted in a five-minute, 13-second gap between the end of the play to the announcement from Triplette.

With the average length of games currently at three hours and eight minutes for 2013 (according to King), centralizing replay would streamline it.

Besides, if the referees are going to continue to apply the wrong standard to the replay function, substituting their own judgment for the question of whether indisputable visual evidence exists to overturn the ruling on the field, the referees have no business juggling that role with everything else they do during a game.  It’s far better to export the function to the league office, like the NHL already does.

90 responses to “Replay could be heading to central location, eventually

  1. The call in the 43-28 Cincinnati/Indianapolis game is small potatoes when compared to the travesty in the last seconds of the Cleveland/new england game.

  2. Officiating has gotten worse every week since they got their new contract. They are just horrible every game. Something needs to be done NOW

  3. If the league wants to further manipulate games, go ahead and move the replay function offsite. It’s bad enough buffoons like Triplette continue to ply their trade. Moving that stuff into the “closet” offsite moves the league yet another step closer to the WWE.

  4. A bigger point which you fail to mention is the system is skewed to not overturning calls based not on the presence of indisputable visible evidence but because the referee is in the position of having to over rule himself or one of his team. Having a supervisor off site rule without being involved in the emotion of the game has always been a better solution.


    I’m sick of watching the refs screw over the Vikings every single game because they aren’t a large market team.

    We should have at least 3 superbowl wins.

  6. Why stop at getting rid of in-stadium replay?…get rid of Jeff Triplette as well, he’s horrible!

  7. Refs need to be held more accountable. End of story. Politicians need to be held more accountable. End of story. See what happens when they aren’t?

  8. Two thoughts:

    1) This works well for hockey – all replays are done from a central location and the result is called in. I do agree that it would remove some of the emotion and you could be able to use every possible angle. In an ideal world, you could work towards goal line technology as well and this would work well with it. It would also allow the coach to challenge ANYTHING – even penalties and have the refs ego removed from the situation

    2) While technology should increase, the amount of rules should not. It seems like there are now rules on rules on rules. I am not talking about the whole “put a skirt on them” argument, which is silly, but if they find a way to remove a lot of the small, commonly misconstrued rules – it would make life easier for the refs. The best example I can think of this is the “force out” rule that they got rid of – now all that has to happen is two feet are in bounds – simple and no more discussion about the rule.

    Regardless of what they have to do – the officiating has to get better. Change the credo of replay from “indisputable evidence” to “Hey dummy, make the right call here.” It is getting harder and harder to enjoy a game and it is getting sad that after every great play, we all have to stare and wait to see if the little yellow “flag” icon comes up by the score (even announcers say “and there are no flags on the play”)

    Keep the players safe by all means, but make the game enjoyable at the same time. The NFL has BILLIONS of dollars to figure out how to do it.

  9. why they’ll still get it wrong… what they need to do is take a lot of these stupid rule out of the refs hands that leads to too many gray areas and lets the refs interpret how the see fit what they need to do is get back to basics let the players play TOO MANY STUPID RULES

  10. I dont see how this speeds it up much. The ref still goes to the sideline put on head phones to get the result from newyork get with his crew to spot the ball reset the clock if needed explain to the coaches then explain to the rest of the world.

    IMO this just a nice way of saying . these guys are not competent enough to do there job so they need a full time official to do it for them.

  11. Another good reason for this is taking home field advantage out of calls. It happens.

    Refs under the hood, crowd is hostile, and he sees he could rule this either way. He rules in favor of the home team. This happens with other calls during the game as well. Not a lot, but it does happen.

  12. Ed Hochuli and his crew need to go as well. That roughing the passer call on 2nd down in the 4th, followed by the holding call on the 2pt conversion was abysmal (Lions/Eagles game). Hochuli just likes to hear himself on the stadium PA system. That crew always throws way too many flags and blows calls.

    What the NFL should do is start fining and suspending officials for bad calls. Just my $.02.

  13. Triplette was the same ref who screwed the redskins in their final drive VS the giants… Someone needs to get this guy out of here , and FAST

  14. Triplett and Morelli it doesn’t get much worse than that. It’s pretty bad when you get the benefit of instant replay and still get the call wrong.

  15. I always found it odd that the head ref had to run an average if 70 yards to view a replay. While I found their conditioning to clearly be exceptional, how hard would it be to hire another official, focus on the reversal/confirmation and move on. But then a quicker review process would likely lose revenue due to less commercials. So, since the NFL’s 100% about money, we’ll likely continue to see 60 year old men jog over to a black box, check it out on the 27 inch tube, and let the fans know. After the extra commercials of course.

  16. Judgement calls kill me.

    What is or isn’t considered pass interference ….just…….. ugh…….!!!

  17. How about the NFL make the Refs full time and pay them as such? Then, take away the replay altogether and hold the field crews to the same professional standard as anyone else associated with the game. This would include fines and suspensions for those that make very bad calls or get rated very low during the season.

    Speeds up the game. Makes the ref crews full time employees and allows them to increase their skills or attract other better qualified refs for the positions.

  18. I notice the SEC refs are wearing headsets for radio communication.

    How has that worked out?

    The colleges seem to have a better handle on replays.

  19. Sounds good for Step 1. We’ll surely get a compromise of this though, and then no attention paid to a host of other issues that can make the game run smoother and more professionally. I could referee these games better from home with the new XBOX. That device is far more sophisticated than the Commodore 64 the referees use.

    Also I have 106 inch HD screen, I can see everything, this is the best screen I have ever used to scrutinize football plays. I don’t know how you officiate a football game without a 100+ inch screen. That’s mandatory equipment for me as a fan to figure out what the heck is happening when the league and the announcers are unable to figure anything out.

  20. Many bad calls again this week. Browns clearly fumbled on their opening drive that would have put the Patriots up 7-0. Bengals obvious fumble. Phantom PI on the Vikings that cost them the game against the Ravens. Bs defensive holding and roughing on the Titans against Denver.The pass interference on the Brown’s at the end against the Patriots. Something has to change.

  21. The NHL has a very good replay system. They call the office in Toronto and the reply usually comes back in ~15 seconds.

  22. I think this is a great idea. There is too much pressure on the official overturning his own call or his crew members call.

    If this move is made, the league should have a red and green light on each goal post. Everyone will know when a play is being reviewed. Paging doesn’t work because the officials could simply ignore it. Red light holds play and green light allows it to continue.

    I also think every play should be reviewable. Coaches should get two challenges and if they are both successful, they should have an additional challenge. If the third challenge is successful, they get a fourth and keep getting an additional challenge until their challenge is unsuccessful. The goal should be to get every call correct.

    The NFL should also release each crews grades weekly. Triplette should be fired but nothing will happen to him.

  23. The other thing they could address with a central review office is player who should be checked for concussions. Lots of times players are obviously out of it (Colt McCoy) but the refs and the doctor on the sidelines miss it. The office watching the game could call to the sidelines and make sure the player is kept out of the game until checked. Decker got crushed today (on a perfectly legal hit that got flagged for 15, barf), then he didn’t move for several seconds before slowly getting up. Was he out? maybe , maybe not? But he should be checked before returning which he was not. Central replay is a must for next season.

  24. jbaxt couldn’t agree more..,wouldn’t be surprised if they have commercials on the videos the refs watch under the replay hood

  25. The NHL does this with goals that are reviewed being done so from the head office in Toronto…no reason the NFL can’t do the same thing…


  26. moerawn says:
    Dec 8, 2013 8:27 PM

    Easier to keep on the script with Central Replay.

    This would be a concern. Most folks don’t understand that it is perfectly legal for the NFL to control outcomes of games. The NFL is considered entertainment just like the WWE. As long as no NFL official is betting on a game, they can do whatever they chose.

  27. Why didn’t Florio mention what happened during the Vikings/Ravens game today? Pete Morelli botched the instant replay of Toby Gerhardt’s knee hitting the ground before the ball came out. Despite the evidence and the replays, Morelli said the Ravens recovered the ball and it led to a Ravens touchdown. That is unacceptable and deserves mentioning just as much as the botched call from Jeff Tripplette.

  28. If the NFL would get fans involved in the process of some of these decisions, the game could be improved. Fans would have to understand the game and the NFL rules to be on a committee.

    I also like the idea of checking players that may be concussed.

  29. The league (i.e. Roger) is really missing out on a potential goldmine here.

    They should cash in on poor officiating by making every play reviewable in a “Dancing With the Stars” format, where the fans text whether to let the call stand or reverse the call on the field, at a cost of ten cents per vote.

    Every blown call would be a windfall for the league….and at the end of the day, the fans would have the ability to reverse any call, so they would ultimately have only themselves to blame for an incorrect ruling.

    And as usual, the fans would feel like they made a difference….but the league would be the real winner.

  30. Good idea make it look even more fixed than it already does. How about this Roger hire some new refs. The old guys can’t keep up.

  31. Refs made several bad calls in Pats/Browns game. The worst was the end zone pass interference at end of game. This was truly a phantom call. Think the NFL league office will agree.

  32. I’m not so sure it should be at a central location for all the games, but I voted yes.
    It’d be cheaper to do it at the league office for sure.
    But I can’t help picturing The Commish sitting in a Sun King type throne with a scepter in one hand with a thumbs up/down signal from the other.
    Its probably better to have an NFL official in the stadium booth at every game. Not the ref watching replays in a peep show booth on the field.

  33. Worst call of the day was the PI on Cleveland. Just ridiculous.

    They should rotate some of these crews out. Taking the game out of the officials hands working the game is wrong.

  34. What makes anyone think that this would make a difference? Nothing the NFL has changed in the last 20 years has made the game better. Just more confusing. I’ve been told by several current and former players that they know the outcome doesn’t matter, they basically just play for the money.

  35. And hochuli was brutal in the lions eagles game. Cost the lions greatly. Two phantom calls. Changed the game by keeping eagles drive alive as well as another attempt at 2 point conversion.

  36. Jeff Tripplette is absolutely the worst ref in the league. I know these officials are graded which effects whether they get playoff games or not, but what about grading them to determine if they keep their JOB? Absurd calls in several games today. These are the best guys in the business? Maybe the answer is getting YOUNGER officials involved. Has anyone seen some of the fossils trotting out to officiate? Ticky-tack fouls that they let go all day, then in the most important part of the game, it’s a penalty. The officials are costing teams games, and come playoff time, they will blow a call that will cost a team the right to advance. It’s time Roger the Dictator took a long look at this

  37. How many more bad calls that affect the outcome of games before the Referee Association and/or the NFL finally understand that Jeff Triplette is an unintelligent, incompetent man who should not serve as referee in the National Football League???

  38. refs need fixin..replay should be sentrally located..even Bungal Homer on radio couldn’t believe it was called a TD.

  39. Yes, this needs to be moved from the field and let others do the replaying. It’s ridiculous both how long it takes to do replays (especially now with all scoring and turnovers being able to have auto replay) and the fact they are expecting a ref who is part of the team that made the call to be unbiased each and every time. Sorry but these guys will often look to save face and will not overturn calls that clearly should be because they don’t want to be shown to have made the wrong call.

  40. Something is wrong here when we all know who these refs are. We shouldn’t know the name of these guys yet everyone knows who Jerome Boger, Walt Coleman, Jeff Tripplette and Pipes Hoculi are…a god ref should be anonymous yet when we see these guys mentioned above reffing our games, our hearts sink as we know what’s coming. Terrible.

  41. I don’t know that Triplette’s 5 minute delay was the issue. Getting the call right is important. But utterly screwing it up AFTER taking five minutes is inexcusable. Incomprehensible, really.

    Firing him is the first step to fixing things. When I agree with great minds like Dierdorf and Simms (or was it Esiason?), man, that’s saying something.

  42. absolutely a great idea. you know in the back of the ref’s minds they are thinking “if this is close, we better give it to the home team before we are torn to shreds by an angry mob”

  43. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE football, but the way these stupid refs are affecting the games, I’m about ready to call it a day watching the NFL.

  44. When I do a search on this website for Jeff Triplette I get 16 hits (only back to 11/27) I expect you would find more in your archives. Google returns 88,100 hits.

    It tells you something when fans know a refs name.

  45. chulavistabob says: Dec 8, 2013 9:23 PM

    What makes anyone think that this would make a difference? Nothing the NFL has changed in the last 20 years has made the game better…
    This made me curious when replay started so I looked it up. Limited use of replay in the NFL started in 1986. 33 years ago! Man, I feel old…

    The current replay system started in 1999.

  46. I bet that to do this will require clearance from the players and the refs union and so it will cost a lot of money to “convince” them to approve.

  47. “How many more bad calls that affect the outcome of games before the Referee Association and/or the NFL finally understand that Jeff Triplette is an unintelligent, incompetent man who should not serve as referee in the National Football League???”

    So every time a bad call is made, Triplette is at fault??? And all bad calls are made by Triplette???

    Several comments have been made by posters that there were several games today where bad calls were made. All of those bad calls were made by Triplette? He was officiating every game?

    And someone said in many games “the wrong teams won.” I’d wager a large sum that there are many who would disagree, especially the fans of the teams that won. It just might be that you were rooting for a team that didn’t win, so you think ‘the wrong team won’?

  48. long overdue. either one central “war room” like the NHL or a more empowered replay official at each site. either way, don’t need the ref running to a field-level replay booth.

  49. Its my opinion that flags should not be thrown unless an official is absolutely certain about the call. A flag should never be thrown on a questionable call. The officiating is ruining the integrity of the game. It is so obvious, its becoming very close to the WWF. The games seem predetermined before the coin flip. The Refs cannot determine the outcome of a lopsided game or a rout. However, the NFL also knows football is a game of momentum. A close game may be affected by stopping momentum and even reversing it. It appears that this can be evened out throughout the year by using home-field when determining the beneficiary. This will keep the games close and the stands filled with fans, thus selling more NFL merchandise. Close games, tight divisions with several teams still in the hunt makes for lots of profits. A Central Command controlled by the NFL will have little if no effect.

  50. Sounds like a good idea but as long as the NFL has influence, they will still make calls based on what is best for the league bottom line instead of what is best for the integrity of the game.

    How about…..

    Make major(15+ yard or loss of down) penalties reviewable by challenge and all major penalties in the final 2 minutes of the half or game..

    Coaches still get their 2 challenges but can use them for major penalties.

    That wouldn’t slow down the game any more than it already is but would pressure the refs to make better calls.

  51. Years ago we had replays called down from the booth. After a few years of delayed games, fan frustration, and second guessing, the league scrapped would be years of play with no review before we got the Coach’s Challenge.

    I don’t see any reason to let the pendulum swing back that way, much less even farther in the direction of reviews by anonymous, invisible officials.

  52. Also, this sounds a little like how the officiating was done in the USA vs Russia olympic men’s basketball game of the 70’s.

  53. Triplette must be investigated, the man actually looked at the replay and then overturned the call on the field.

    It’s things like this that give credence the the idea that the NFL is fixed.

  54. Who are we trying to kid?

    It’s obvious that the most important replay calls are already being handled by a central location: Las Vegas.

  55. I’m a vikings fan and the number of games that the vikings have lost because of bad calls has to be at the top of a list in the NFL. Today was more of the same unbelievable one sided officiating at Baltimore that makes fans like myself not even want to watch anymore. The only way I can see not having the ref’s determine the outcome of a football game is by removing many of the stupid rules that honestly are ignored until the end of the game to help the home team keep the drive alive to win. Let the game become a truly fare battle of strength technique skill and play call/design. 1st things first, NO more stupid calls for holding or interference or taunting or he moved in the back field or two people shifted at the same time or he wasn’t close enough to the line or he was illegally down field. Yes Too many dumb rules that have nothing to do with determining who’s the better team and are just ignored 75 percent of the time. If a player wants to taunt, then it’s up to the other player to ignore him and figure he will get whats coming to him the next time. If a defender wants to just grab hold of and tackle the WR fine! Its man against man. It would be up to the WR not to be taken out of the play. Same in the trenches, you see offensive linemen hold on every play, so its up to the defensive lineman to keep from being held or tackled by shifting, double teaming, blitzing or what ever it takes to get one of their men free to make a tackle for loss. The team with the better play design and better players with more strength, speed or better technique will win out more often but it will also enable less qualified players to be able to take a better player out of the play if the better player allows him to. 2nd Use technology to keep things fair. Like having the apposing teams glove activate something when it touches your face mask. For out of bounds use a simple laser beam a 1/2 inch off the ground all the way around the fields white line. For ball placement use something inside the ball that could be precisely tracked on a computer screen to show exactly where the perimeter of the ball is on every play. Have either team be able to move at the line of scrimmage and lasers would detect the snap of the ball and if a players helmet crossed the line before the ball moved it would activate something on the helmet. In the past teams dominated other teams and most games were not that close but in today’s NFL so many games are decided by 7 points or less. This week one bad call could easily steal a win from six different teams. Two bad calls could have made the difference on the three teams that lost by 8-14 points. With rule changes and technology this game could once again be up to the players to decide who wins and who loses instead of the ref’s giving it to the home team. Statistics don’t lie so you cannot deny that these refs obviously favor the home team. The law of averages says that over time bad calls that decide games would average out 50-50 for home and visiting teams. Instead it’s more like 5% of the time the visiting team wins because of a bad call and 95% of the time the home team wins.

  56. Great news!! Too bad I already had a stroke yelling at Jeff Tripplette yesterday. 5:30 minutes to determine he wasn’t touched at the goal line?? Not buying it. You could tell that no one touched him at the goal line after 5 seconds.

  57. Ref’s should be full time, And do more classroom studying of the rules, And be fined, or have thier pay docked, And keep report cards on all officials, And if they have more than three BAD calls they lose thier job!!

  58. I have said for a long time, like others here, that the college system is better where the reviews come from the booth. You have a quieter place with a much better screen, and you are less emotionally affected by the game.

    I don’t like the central review though. If we can loose power at a Super Bowl, then we can loose the connection to central review. There could also be too many calls come in at once.

    Just move the reviews upstairs.

  59. Full-time officials would not change a thing.

    Add 1 official to each game and put him upstairs in a booth with access to every replay angle. That guy would be in charge of the on-field crew and he would have authority to review any play and call down any corrections to the referee. The booth guys should not be assigned to a specific referee group (switch every week) and should work games as even as possible among the involved teams (same guy should not get 8 Pats games, or a large number of NCE East games, etc.)

    Moving the replays to a centralized location would only add to the belief that the NFL has certain scenarios/teams that override action on the field.

  60. FinFan68:FinFan68 says: Dec 9, 2013 9:57 AM

    Moving the replays to a centralized location would only add to the belief that the NFL has certain scenarios/teams that override action on the field.


    If they are handing out touchdowns like Jeff Tripplette did, then absolutely it will look like the NFL is conspiring to favor certain teams for ratings, market size, or betting reasons. But if they get the calls right a vast majority of the time, then it can only improve on what we have now.

  61. In the Indianapolis Star News, Triplette says he never looked at the entire play, yet NFL rules say when a review is conducted the entire play is reviewed. He is either lying or incompetent.

    The NFL is huge business. Every stadium should have permanent HD cameras looking both ways down each side line, both ways on the end line and both ways and from above the goal line. There should never be a missed boundary call or touchdown call. I bet they could even implant a sensor inside the ball that would have the cameras track the area closest to the ball. The replay room should have multiple HD screens that are sync so 8-10 views can be watched at once.

    When a booth replay is called, the replay official should activate a light – like on the top of the back board in the NBA – so everyone in the stadium knows a replay has been ordered. Once the booth replay – or central office replay – has concluded, the light should be turned green. If a call is changed, let the booth replay announce it over the PA like the referee does. Text the referee and his crew instructions. The game clock should also be controlled in the replay booth so time corrections can be made quicker.

    I also think coaches should be permitted two challenges per game. If they get both challenges upheld, they get another one and as long as their challenge is upheld, they always have one. If a coach challenges 10 times and all are upheld, that is fine with me. The goal is to get every call correct.

    The NFL needs to post weekly scorecards on each crew and each individual crew member for public review. Triplette has a history of mistakes. How can he keep his job after this one that in reality effected the game. There is a huge difference being down one touchdown or two. It changes both teams strategies especially the one trailing.

  62. I should add, if review is not conducted at a central location, then the replay official(s) in the booth should make the call. There is no need for the referee to review the play. It is a waste of time.

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