When the NFL changed the replay rules in 2014 to permit the league office to be involved in the process of reviewing a call on the field, the end result happened only after it appeared that the league would take the function completely out of the stadium and move it exclusively to 345 Park Avenue. That still could occur.
Giants co-owner John Mara recently explained that the league office may assume full control over the replay system in the future.
“We had discussion about whether those reviews should be made from the command center in New York and the final decision made there or whether it’s made by the on-field official,” Mara said regarding the 2015 Competition Committee meetings. “I still think that we’re heading closer to a situation where those calls will ultimately be reviewed and determinations made by the command center, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet. But I think we are getting there.”
It’s a change that would make plenty of sense. With every referee potentially applying a different standard for assessing whether indisputable visual evidence exists to overturn the call on the field, having one central location for assessing the calls and making the decision ensures that a referee won’t surrender to the temptation to re-do the decision instead of giving it the extreme deference that the replay standard provides.
Of course, business considerations may result in the referee still having a role in the process. With Microsoft and Bose paying the league millions for sponsorships based in large part on product placement, having the referee grab a tablet and slap on a set of headphones during the replay review could advance the bottom line, even if the referee eventually becomes a bystander.