Sports betting may force NFL to use full-time officials, enhanced replay

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The NFL knows that it will never get every call right. With sports betting now available for any state that wants to adopt it, the NFL soon will have to try harder.

Both reality and perception will be important in this regard, with a compelling need to eradicate mistakes by officials and an even more compelling need to create the impression that the NFL is doing everything possible to eradicate mistakes by officials. For starters, the NFL will need full-time officials, across the board.

The process toward employing officials on a full-time basis already has begun. Eventually, all will need to be full-time employees, given the reality that for any mistake made by a part-time official, the argument will be, “A full-time official wouldn’t have made that mistake.”

And while there’s a practical limit to the number of calls that will be gotten right, it must seem to the neutral observer that the league is trying. Having a full complement of full-time officials cries out, “We’re trying as hard as we can.”

That may not be enough. To the extent that mistakes can be rectified via expanded replay review, the league will have to be willing to consider doing it. And the league also should seriously consider something I’ve suggested for several years now — the use of a video official who is part of the crew, who monitors the action away from the field via the various camera angles, and who communicates directly to the referee when the video reveals that a mistake is about to be made by the on-field crew, ensuring that the pre-replay call is as accurate as possible.

The league may argue that these enhancements justify the so-called “integrity fee” that all sports leagues hope to shake from the states that adopt sports wagering. The response should be that this isn’t about “integrity,” it’s about competence.

The NFL has tolerated something less that absolute competence and performance by employing part-time officials, many of whom otherwise have full-time jobs. The NFL has done that because, quite frankly, it’s far cheaper this way. The cheaper route won’t be an option when millions of dollars will be legally changing hands every week based on the outcome of games.

In the past, a bad beat caused by officials would from time to time create a ruckus, like when former NFL referee Scott Green made a mistake at the end of a Chargers-Steelers game in 2008. With legalized gambling, that ruckus quickly could become a full-blown inquisition. And if enough of those happen, Congress could make the NFL’s worst nightmare come to fruition by creating a federal agency that oversees all American professional sports.

So, no, this isn’t about integrity. This is about the NFL finally having a clear, pressing reason to do what it should have been doing all along: Striving to get every call right in every game, with no tolerance for the concept of human error.

61 responses to “Sports betting may force NFL to use full-time officials, enhanced replay

  1. I’m close to wanting to eliminate replay entirely.

    Just let the refs get it right or get it wrong. If they get it right – Great. If they get it wrong – Them’s the breaks.

    I used to love replay. The NFL can’t seem to figure it out though. Reviews are getting longer rather than shorter. They don’t seem to want to just give the authority to a group up in the booth who can radio down to the ref to explain the situation before he needs to waddle his 75-year-old butt on over to the sideline to look at a 13″ tablet. The guys upstairs could get the call right before the ref even made it to the sideline.

    Nah – We can’t have that. It needs to be the ref who determines the result of the play on a 13″ tablet while millions wait for his expertise that no one else could possibly have.

    Again, it’s getting to the point where it was better in the 80’s. If the ref blew a call everyone knew it…and everyone lived with it. World kept spinning.

  2. No. It is a game officiated by humans. The NFL has room for improvement in its officiating, but “no tolerance for the concept of human error” is not realistic.

  3. I don’t understand that. Why would the NFL have to change anything? It is already the most bet sport and it’s been working fine in Vegas for years.

  4. If the new gambling relaxation forces the NFL to adapt full-time officiating then that’s great news.

    Although in truth this has been needed since at least as far back as the merger. It’s well established that the present moonlighting officials are inept at what they do on Sundays and it’s made worse by the fact that they have no real accountability for their foul-ups.

  5. Now that has occurred, we need to .

    Good way to take a tired rant and breathe some life into it.
    “This isn’t a recycled gripe, this is timely!!”

  6. “Just let the refs get it right or get it wrong. If they get it right – Great. If they get it wrong – Them’s the breaks.”

    The problem with that is the proliferation of DVRs and that millions of fans already re-run bad call in frame by frame HD resolution looking for any hint of a mistake so they can scream cheating and game fixing by the league or a given team.

    At least with replay it helps the refs get bad calls overturned sometimes though not all the time.

    We’ve already seen many catches and plays overturned because of a so called “bobble” which occurred in a single 1/30th of a second frame when they should never have been overturned. Its the 2 edged sword of technology. Its great to have that high res beautiful picture on your TV. At the same time it is so high res that slowed down what in most of history would never have been considered a problem suddenly becomes a “bobble” and negates a play that should not be negated.

  7. Certainly with the added revenue from gaming the NFL could add more full time officials, address the human error aspect, and require regular eye tests. Most likely many states will cap the amount that can be wagered so to avoid upset fans. The biggest issues will be pregame gaming odds and services predicting guaranteed winners. The only winner in this whole decision will be NFL owners getting more revenue. Individual states won’t use any money from the gaming decision correctly . Can you just see the mess Jerry Brown would create in California working to get this set up and successful.

  8. realtruthteller100 says:
    May 15, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    gambleing is a sin
    —————————————

    Gambling is a vice; poor spelling is a sin.

  9. So full time referees will be better? They will not be allowed to have other jobs, so maybe they spend that extra time studying the rules, but they aren’t going to have better eyesight and the guy in the replay booth was already full time. Maybe the extra time will be spent practicing flag throwing. This is just window dressing, not better officiating.

  10. Generally, Vegas and the books do not care one iota who wins a game. They get the vig and use the loser’s money to pay the winner’s. It doesn’t always work out that way but close enough for the casinos that even in the big picture (those weekends when lots of big favorites cover) are even out by many more weekends when the big favorites do not cover. The only people crying about this is reporters that like to stir up page hits.

  11. ncphinsfan says:
    May 15, 2018 at 4:16 pm
    realtruthteller100 says:
    May 15, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    gambleing is a sin
    —————————————

    Gambling is a vice; poor spelling is a sin.

    0 0 Rate This

    ———————-

    That’s how Joe Namath would say it (and probably spell it, too).

  12. I say give it back to the officials and get rid of slow motion on replays. The whole point of replay is to fix obvious mistakes. If its not obvious at full speed, its not obvious.

    No more 100x zoom and 1/100 slow motion.

  13. So now when you go watch a game for a relaxing sunday afternoon with your friends or your wife you not only have to deal with fantasy stooges screaming and yelling you have to deal with the 25 dollar bettors.

  14. They better get it right after this.
    Or Vito “The Leg Breaker” will show up on some refs door step.

  15. We had a stadium filled with 70,000 people. Two of those people took a knee and allegedly fans claimed to boycott the league.

    What do you think is going to happen when a game ends in controversy? There will be games that end in controversy going forward. How many “I’m done with the NFL.” comments are the rest of us going to have to suffer through once fans start losing cash to controversy?

    The pro gambling fans are all sunshine and puppy dogs but that’s all going to go away the second they lose on a controversial call. If you think controversial calls are just magically going to go away, well don’t bet on that.

  16. @19dead2

    Take the human element out of football ( and officials are part of that) andmit’s ruined plain and simple. How bout theynplay the game with fumble proof robots who never ever mess up.

  17. An expanded replay rule makes it LESS likely that referees will be corrupted to throw games to favor a certain line. It is an essential change in a world where you can place a bet on the NFL from anywhere in the world.

  18. A few things, 1st all sports not just the NFL will now have to get things right. and how long do you think it will take before the 1st law suit. You know I lost 1K when the ref got it wrong and cost me I am suing ! But you know what I have not heard one thing about which is what is always the big argument against gambling is the impact it has on people who have gambling problems. That argument stopped an entire casino for going up in our area. I haven’t heard any talk of that. Only how much money everyone will make. Gambling is like a huge food trough that lots of people will get rich from, but you can’t get rich without someone tasking a loss. Good Luck this is a Pandora Box.

  19. It’s long past time for the NFL to get younger, faster, smarter, full-time refs. They should’ve done this 20 years ago.

  20. Easy to see a day when gambling will influence a game over a blown call. Thought that was what was being avoided all these years. Or does making it visible make that influence more legal?

  21. realtruthteller100 says:
    May 15, 2018 at 4:08 pm
    gambleing is a sin

    Right on par with what I’d expect from someone who believes anything is a sin.

  22. Cue the fixed matches…players on the take…mysterious fumbles and interceptions…scorecards being written before the game by gangsters…just like soccer, just like cricket, just like pretty much every other sport where betting is involved….one fixed match can bring a player more money than a lifetime of playing…this is the end

  23. I know this is crazy talk, but it is possible to enjoy a football game without wagering on it.

  24. lionsfan123 says:
    May 15, 2018 at 3:57 pm
    I’m close to wanting to eliminate replay entirely.

    Just let the refs get it right or get it wrong. If they get it right – Great. If they get it wrong – Them’s the breaks.

    I used to love replay. The NFL can’t seem to figure it out though. Reviews are getting longer rather than shorter. They don’t seem to want to just give the authority to a group up in the booth who can radio down to the ref to explain the situation before he needs to waddle his 75-year-old butt on over to the sideline to look at a 13″ tablet. The guys upstairs could get the call right before the ref even made it to the sideline.

    Nah – We can’t have that. It needs to be the ref who determines the result of the play on a 13″ tablet while millions wait for his expertise that no one else could possibly have.

    Again, it’s getting to the point where it was better in the 80’s. If the ref blew a call everyone knew it…and everyone lived with it. World kept spinning.
    ——————

    I agree with you. But to get rid of replay the NFL has to develop thicker skin and be willing to shrug off blown calls and the criticism that comes with them. The problem is that even if the NFL gets rid if replay the media has all those capabilities too and will use then to dissect calls and show the public exactly where the official was wrong. And the public will have no willingness to accept human error, if the call is against them they will scream for blood. And now with money on it that blood screaming will be x10, and its only a matter of time before somebody that lost on a bad call files a lawsuit. Thats what the NFL has no stomach for.

  25. Ref’s make bad calls and even worse calls using replay as of late. Gamble on Football at your own risk. With the rules changing on the fly related to catches, your money is at the mercy of however that particular referee whats to interpret a vague rule.

  26. Money ruins everything, eventually.

    The wall in place against legalized gambling may have been the last, best defense against the sport collapsing into having no identity beyind a shameless, craven non-stop money grab. It’s easy to argue that’s been there for ages, but it’s gotten much worse as salaries skyrocket and everyone clamors for a piece of the rapidly-inflating pie.

    Eventually, standards and ideals will degrade to the point where it will literally be unpleasant to watch and think about this game. I think the gambling ruling moves us dramatically closer to that time.

  27. 345snarkavenue says:
    May 15, 2018 at 4:52 pm
    Imagine if Trump loses a bet on a controversial call?

    ——————
    He doesn’t like gambling or any games of chance. Even when he was active in Atlantic City he stayed away from the tables and such. He has more sense than a lot of his critics.

  28. I’m sitting here wondering why the most profitable sport in all of the country doesn’t just pay up to have 300 “really important” referees…

  29. Hey, that’s why it’s called gambling. Anyone who throws down money on a game, gets what they ask for.

  30. lionsfan123 says:
    May 15, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    I’m close to wanting to eliminate replay entirely.

    Just let the refs get it right or get it wrong. If they get it right – Great. If they get it wrong – Them’s the breaks.
    ————————-

    I agree. Replay hasn’t really solved anything, and in fact has just created more controversy, especially when everyone watching at home can see they got it wrong. Throw in the arbitrariness of Al Riveron, and it’s just turned into a joke.

  31. baltimoresnativeson says:
    May 15, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    There will be a fixed game here and there for sure now.
    _____________________________________________

    Because legal gambling is somehow more likely to make that happen than the illegal gambling that’s been going on since the league’s inception? Is your state lottery commissioner a member of the Corleone family?

  32. Not sure why the same mistake made post-decision would be more egregious just because the wagering is legal. Unless the NFL is placing bets on itself or running its own booking, that’s on the person laying their life savings on a simple game of football. Unless there’s rock-solid proof that the league,players or game officials are cheating for gamblers, I wouldn’t care about the feelings of someone placing bets on the outcome of a contest.

  33. 345snarkavenue says:
    May 15, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    Imagine if Trump loses a bet on a controversial call?
    _________________
    I bet you have Trump Derangement Syndrome and include him in each of your waking thoughts.
    Please pay my winnings in Liberal tears.

  34. lets hope we can figure out better ways to determine what a first down is other than a piece of paper.

  35. The refs are not missing close calls but the obvious ones. Football will be even more fixed and the refs will cash out on it.

  36. .
    why would the NFL be effected by betting?
    the 2 have nothing to do with each other.
    its the bookies problem.
    The same thing happens in fantasy, in my league final means final. no adjustments are allowed after the game is over. aka those stat adjustments that happen all week up till Thursday morning.

  37. this is like the Silver Spoons episode when Ricky and Derek bet on the Jets and the bookie’s goon comes to Ricky’s mansion to collect on the debt.

  38. Oh what a concept! Yeah, how about hiring refs who aren’t 80 years old, can run up and down the field with the players, can actually SEE, and maybe create a school for referees since it’s actually important that they get it right? Make them attend full time classes and seminars when they’re not officiating! Improve them! You wouldn’t need replay if they were competent!

  39. To be clear any call that decides a game will be questioned as will the official that made the call. The NFL has taken a bottom line approach to the officiating and a bureaucratic approach to the rules.The best representation for the competence and professionalism of the league can and should be the officials. Clear concise rules full time professional referees and efficient replay are necessary and will protect the league from questions of a thrown game. Oh yeah it will also enhance their image to the public and make us fans believe a bunch of billionaires really do know what they doing.

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