CFL adopts device for fixing officiating errors quickly

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In 2016, the CFL will be doing something that the NFL needs to be doing, too. But the NFL needs to go even farther.

Via the Canadian Press, the Canadian Football League has added a video official, with the goal of correcting blatant officiating mistakes quickly. The video official will operate from the CFL’s command center in Toronto, monitoring the action from a feed that shows the entire field.

The expectation is simple: The video official will be asked to fix obvious errors that cannot be challenged via the replay review system.

The CFL also has expanded the universe of plays that fall within the normal replay review function to include offensive pass interference, illegal contact, roughing the passer or kicker, and other previously non-reviewable plays. In 2014, the CFL made defensive pass interference reviewable.

The NFL has resisted making pass interference reviewable, based on the notion that interference is a judgment call. Still, officials can make significant and clear errors when determining whether interference did or didn’t occur; why not allow it to be fixed?

As to the use of a video official, the better approach would be to assign a video official to each officiating crew in each stadium, helping spot mistakes and consulting with the referee as a first look — not as a second, after-the-fact review. The replay function would still be available, but an in-stadium official watching the game the same way that millions watch it at home would have a pipeline to the referee, with the ability to tell the referee what the HD images show.

Why should the video official who has the benefit of seeing what the fans see have any say in the crafting of rulings? For starters, the video official wouldn’t primarily be trying to avoid being run over by a much young, larger, and stronger person. Wearing armor.

With each passing year, the NFL becomes a bigger deal — and the outcome of each and every game becomes more important, too. The biggest challenge for the NFL currently is to bridge the gap between what a handful of officials see at field level versus what millions of viewers see at home.

The sooner that happens, the better off the sport will be.

52 responses to “CFL adopts device for fixing officiating errors quickly

  1. Add a pair of video refs assigned to every game. Use older more experienced refs to staff those positions. Give them the power to overturn any call. Eliminate coach’s challenges.

    Speed up the game.

  2. See what you can do when you don’t have decades and decades of onerous so-called “tradition” bogging you down and preventing you from adapting to modern technology?

    Oh, wait. The CFL is actually older than the NFL. Never mind. Guess they’re just smarter.

  3. We’ve been fixing games for years in Green Bay.

  4. As a fan for both leagues I can tell you that it’s adding too much time to the games. I would rather put more judgment into the officials’ hands and reduce the amount of video replays. It’s detracting from the overall game.

  5. NFL officiating is so bad, they’ll need a staff of 5 guys monitoring video for every game, and they’ll STILL get it wrong.

  6. Proud Canadian here. To my buddies down south, remember that the CFL can afford to take risks like this.

    Kind of a cool role in teasing the shield.

  7. The NFL would never agree! They would loose their ability to control who wins games. The leagues favorites would start loosing games and couldn’t make it to the playoff.
    And no more 4 first downs in a row, because of phony PI calls. Also no more roughing the passer when a DE get within a country mile of Brady. Morals, ethics, and truthfulness are abhorred by the NFL owners. They need controversy, so they can get more free publicity.

  8. Not sure I like this idea over expansion of the current system……Maybe NFL should keep an eye on the CFL and how it works and then decide if they want to look at incorporating similar system.

  9. Pass interference should be a 15yd penalty and reviewable. Some of these phantom “judgement” calls late in games can completely change the outcomes…

  10. Were are a crossroads for football in general. With added attention on long lasting health risks to the players and suits not being on the same page to television improving game day experience to over saturating people’s abilities to challenge live decisions.

    I actually believe for football to last they need to simplify the rulebook and not extend to more reviewable plays. The problem is two fold, their is naturally and element of human error and opinion but also everything is so visible more so than live on the field that every subjective call officials are being questioned about possible motive. I would like to see blatant missed or blown calls reviewed but not at the sake of game flow and allowing every call to become he said she said. I mean literally every single play their is offensive holding and defensive pushing or holding. Sometimes it’s blatant sometimes it’s not but it happens every single play. Who gets to make the decision of when to call it overturn it or enforce it. I’m personally worried as we look got more exposure we identify catastrophic errors that are just inherent in sports.

    I disagree that even more plays should be reviewable just bc it just gets more and more one sided. For example before it was reviewable to see if a runner was down or crossed the goal line to reviewing catches and fumbles and clock and spotting and personal fouls etc etc. It starts with something small they continues to grow into unintended changes which affect the entire game. Just look at hitting and how the game has changed to the point that any big hit legal or illegal whenever a player gets smacked and hurt it’s almost guaranteed to be a flag. Yes I appreciate football being more about athleticism but I remember and appreciate and acknowledge that football was created as you vs me and a huge element to football is hitting and the overall affects it has on your opponent.. Is it fair that some teams have harder hitters or better intimatedors but it’s no different than having taller bugger stronger players yet it’s the most scrutinized thing in all of sports.

    My fear is when does football die and become flag football or rugby, can’t have your cake and eat it to. I’d say over half of the best NFL plays of all time could have been reversed or called back or called completely differently if they happened in this day and age. I mean every time we see and old school big hit and someone gets laid out you have a billion people on her calling someone a cheater. Meanwhile we relished and praised players for this forever some of which are in the HOF mainly bc of the notoriety they garnished by hitting.

    Imo football in an imperfect sport as we constantly try to improve it we also tarnish it.

  11. Those Canucks are gonna be better than Americans soon at American Football.
    Oh wait some of them still speak French.

  12. It’s a fact that the NFL has been scared to consider making the Super Bowl a battle in northern Saskatchewan between the CFL vs NFL. Just saying

  13. fire all the dinosaur geezers who resist this rule and catch up with the 70s already, we all know what a catch is and anything less than instant reversal of blatant garbage calls is manufactured clickbait

  14. This could be a marketing bonanza: “Let’s take it to the Progressive QC to make this right” or something dumb like that. Money fixes everything.

  15. Jeff, gb didn’t pioneer the fat lazy rb but it that sure as hell won’t stop them from trying. Hell even the head coach and fans are

  16. I still don’t get this replay exemption for “judgement calls”. The rule book defines what pass interference, illegal contact, etc., are. Much like baseball with its “every umpire has his own strike zone” nonsense, this just seems like a way to shield officials from having bad or missed calls publicly highlighted.

  17. The NHL has been doing this for years but the problem for the NFL is that it will be impossible for officials to fix games.

  18. I’m all for them getting the calls right on the field but I am not sure it won’t slow the game down. I think the NFL should let the CFL blaze this new trail for a season and then, if it seems to be improving the game, adopt it for themselves.

  19. It’ll never come to pass in the NFL because “the League” didn’t think of/employ it first. Case in point, the much more efficient and superior collegiate replay system.

  20. The NFL isn’t concerned with getting the call right, they’re too worried about preventing the refs from being embarrassed after making obvious blunders.

  21. NFL wouldn’t be able to fix their games as easily if they took this very logical and far overdue step…even the Supreme Court agrees they can fix their games because it’s “entertainment”…just like the WWE..look it up.

  22. NFL will hire the courtroom sketch artist that drew Brady and have her diagram up what probably happened on the play.

  23. The judgment call excuse is ridiculous. Either it’s a penalty, or it isn’t.

    How does seeing a penalty happen in a split second trump various angles in a slow motion replay?

  24. I agree whole-heartedly. It has always seemed ridiculous that a blatant error visible to the home viewer on HD tv should be easily corrected by a video official at every stadium. Very logical. Let’s get it done.

  25. I would like to see Pass Interference be something that can be reviewed. As a poster above said, it is defined in the rule book, so how can it be a judgement call? But if they resist that change, Id still be ok with it.

    But what they need to make reviewable are Roughing the Passer penalties. I am so sick and tired of seeing a defensive player swipe at the ball, miss the ball, and hit the QBs shoulder with his hand, and have the official throw a flag for a “blow to the head”. If the player punches the QB in the helmet, fine, but if he barely grazes it, or misses it altogether, there is absolutely no reason for there to be a flag on the play.

  26. No wonder Kramer didn’t want to go to the super bowl with jerry….. Kramer only watched Canadian football….

  27. The NFL does not want to get the calls right.

    They want to be able to influence the outcome of games and anything that eliminates the “judgement” of an official that lets the NFL blatantly change an outcome can’t be allowed.

  28. I chuckle at the fixing games jokes. But I don’t see how this would really affect that very much. For example, the Super Bowl. We all know that it was a catch by the Panthers receiver. Everyone on tv saw it, and with the exception of Broncos fans, everyone knows it was a catch. Even if the NFL used this style of reviewing plays, we all know the official on the field would have final say. So if that official on the field us supposed to ensure Peyton gets a ring, he will call it incomplete. If he isn’t supposed to ensure Peyton gets a ring, he will call it correctly, complete.

    On second thought, if the NFL takes the replay decision out of the hands of the officials on the field, we will suspect even more shenanigans from the NFL. But, at least it takes away the concept of “the Ref doesn’t want to over turn the call by his on field cohorts, and embarrass him, etc”. Now if the ref announces his on field cohort effed up, it isn’t his call, he is just passing on the decision.

    And for the folks that think it will slow down the game, I have a few thoughts. One, I love football, and don’t really care if the game is 3 hours and 10 minutes instead of 3 hours. Two, I suspect this would speed up Ed Hocculi games. No longer will he need 45 minutes of mic time, now he’ll only need 6 minutes…

  29. Its getting to the point you dont need live officials. Just make it all camera’s… Every player has a gopro (qbacks on helmet, linemen on chest, cb’s on both hands etc) then, have 15 cameras a game each focusing on certain positions and another 6 for key areas of the field plus the separate ones on the goal line…oh, and every camera get’s $15/hr

  30. I’m not too fond of 3 downs however and the larger field. Although I do like the deeper end zones. Having deeper end zones in the NFL would make the game more exciting to watch.

    Overall, the CFL isn’t too bad. I’ll watch some games now and then.

  31. With a smaller field, more cameras and much higher revenue than the NFL it’s easier for the CFL to implement such a system…oh, wait

  32. swaggerville1 says:
    Apr 8, 2016 1:12 AM

    It’s a fact that the NFL has been scared to consider making the Super Bowl a battle in northern Saskatchewan between the CFL vs NFL. Just saying


  33. The NFL needs to forget London and China and just merge with the CFL like they did with the AFL merger. At least the CFL is in the same time zones.

  34. If the officials start getting the calls right what excuse are fans going to use when their teams lose?

  35. shadowman1433 says:
    Apr 8, 2016 11:52 AM

    If the officials start getting the calls right what excuse are fans going to use when their teams lose?

    The same one they use now, which is that the Patriots cheat.

    That’s the one-size-fits-all answer for inept teams.

    Then the league will try to “fix” the problem by punishing the Patriots, to no avail.

  36. “The better approach would be to assign a video official to each officiating crew in each stadium, helping spot mistakes and consulting with the referee as a first look — not as a second, after-the-fact review.” This is an excellent idea. I’d go two steps farther.

    First, that official isn’t attached to the stadium, he/she is a member of the crew. Part of what makes an excellent crew is their trust in each other. A Back Judge who just blew a PI call would resent a video official second-guessing a call. But if that person’s a fellow crew member he’ll be more willing to accept a ruling from a team-member than a stranger.

    Second, this is a great way to make use of senior officials who have wealth of experience but are no longer up for the physical demands of the job. Imagine if the crew chief was the video official and the head judge was just another member of the crew.

    The one caveat is the video official would need at least 1 tech to operate the equipment OR require the broadcaster to provide a liaison with the production team to run the replays. The last thing the NFL needs is a referee more worried about how to get X reply from Y camera angle than making the correct ruling.

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