As expected, NFL owners have made a change to the replay rules. As not expected, the NFL didn’t dramatically change the paradigm, with the list of reviewable plays scrapped in favor only of a list of non-reviewable plays.
Along the way, the owners expanded replay review, slightly, to include certain administrative matters. Items now subject to replay review that weren’t previously subject to replay review are as follows: (1) penalty enforcement; (2) proper down; (3) the spot of a foul; and (4) the status of the game clock.
The list of non-reviewable plays also has been revised to include the following situations: (1) the spot where an airborne ball crosses the sideline; (2) whether a player was blocked into a loose ball; (3) advance by a player after a valid or invalid fair catch signal; (4) whether a player created the impetus that put the ball into an end zone. The quarterback “spike” for the purposes of killing the clock, which previously was on the list of non-reviewable players, has been removed.
Apart from including these items within the formal replay-review system, the replay official and designated members of the league office may now consult with the on-field officials “to provide information on the correct application of playing rules, including appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, and status of the game clock.”
The new rule otherwise streamlines the replay rules, eliminating plenty of verbiage that arguably was unnecessary to the process of determining what could and couldn’t be reviewed. Also, the order of the relevant rule has been modified, with the list of non-reviewable plays now preceding the list of reviewable plays. (Previously, the reviewable plays came first.)
It’s hardly a major revision to the process. However, there’s one specific facet of the new rule that justifies further attention, in a separate post.