Rich McKay says expanding instant replay would be “very complicated”

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NFL Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay is sounding a cautious note about calls to expand instant replay.

McKay told Christ Mortensen of ESPN that he thinks allowing coaches to challenge penalties would be a more difficult rule change than most people realize.

“Anything is possible,” McKay said. “We’ve always considered expanding reviewable plays under the replay system . . . but it’s a very complicated discussion.”

Among the complications that McKay mentioned are that the league doesn’t like the idea of reviewing judgment calls, and that challenges aren’t permitted in the last two minutes of a half or in overtime, which means the replay assistant would have to look for every possible penalty and stop the game to have them reviewed.

But the NFL routinely uses video to overrule the judgment of on-field officials on penalties: Every week, the folks in the league office watch videos to determine whether or not to fine players for illegal hits, and those decisions often contradict the decisions of the officials on the field. If replay can be used to determine fines days later, why can’t replay be used to assess penalties in the moment?

As for challenges, a simple fix could be to allow coaches to start challenging penalties in the last two minutes and overtime. Coaches would still have to have a timeout to make a challenge, and coaches wouldn’t want to throw a timeout away in the final minutes of a close game, so there’s no concern that coaches would challenge an uncalled penalty unless they were confident they would win.

But McKay is a powerful voice in the room when the NFL considers rule changes, and right now, McKay’s voice is sounding skepticism about expanding replay.

63 responses to “Rich McKay says expanding instant replay would be “very complicated”

  1. Or you could just put a video ref on every game to catch the obvious stuff that every person watching at home can clearly see. Sometimes simple works…

  2. Hope it’s not due to the New Orleans play; because there wasn’t anything wrong with the officiating system. The official saw the penalty(s). It was very blatant and dangerous to the defenseless WR….the official simply didn’t call what he saw.

    You don’t need replay to resolve that. You just need elite, professional, unbiased, full time officials.

  3. “Among the complications that McKay mentioned are that the league doesn’t like the idea of reviewing judgment calls”

    Why? Anyone can make a mistake Rich. Sounds like he has a VERY closed mind.

  4. “But the NFL routinely uses video to overrule the judgment of on-field officials on penalties”

    You are conflating making a judgment with a judgment call. Right now the league reviews hard evidence calls, such that lack of evidence or clear evidence is the determining factor. If a knee is down, whether a player maintains control by definition, how many feet are down are not judgment calls. Please do not expand replay. Instead make refs full-time employees, disband the refs union and train the refs better, hire the best and fire those that consistently botch calls.

  5. All I know is, when a controversial play happens, the network is showing us high-def super-slow-mo replays from multiple angles within seconds. Us armchair officials can look at something and usually within a minute we’ve made up our minds.

    Take the replay review off the field and put it up in the booth with an official – or two? – and speed the process up. That will make it less painful, so then the idea of using it more will hopefully be more practical and reasonable.

  6. how about you let coaches issue challenges within the last 2 minutes of the half, instead of relying on the shady NFL offices, so the league has less control over the replay system. if the coach doesnt have any challenges left, then oh well.

  7. If the NFL won’t institute video replay and the refs can’t come to a consensus that a penalty occurred, the NFL has NO BUSINESS fining a player for a penalty. The fact that they fined Robey-Coleman within a matter of days but made no official statement about the hit shoes me that the NFL cares more about adding nickel and dime revenue than improving the actual product on the field.

  8. Expanding replay is not the problem.

    Getting the call right is the problem.

    Have in 4 refs from the area one the crew is the problem.

    Huge nocalls the the world can see in real time is the problem.

    I guess the answer to the problem is do your job and don’t ever make it look as fixed as a boxing match again.

  9. Oh, and while we’re talking about judgement calls: here’s what kills me – the player with the ball goes out of bounds or is tackled by the sideline. The official over there puts his foot down then the ball gets run out to the hash marks. That is all entirely a “judgement call”. We will then go through the absurd charade of pretending to measure this highly inaccurate and subjective marking with the chains, as though the ball placement was made with laser precision.

    “Oh, it’s an inch short!” Really? That whole process is all just spitballing to within, what, a foot or so, maybe? They’re supposed to mark the position of the ball when a player is down but this becomes highly subjective whenever a player’s knee (or whatever body part gets him down) hits and he falls forward (or backward, for that matter).

    My point is – if we want to use technology to improve the game, how about using it to accurately record ball placement at the end of a play?

  10. Leave the same system that is in place now, where coaches have 2 challenges and can be awarded a third if they are correct twice BUT allow them to challenge any call at any time. What is so complex about that? Having some calls reviewable and others exempt from review has always been an odd decision which just begs for criticism.

  11. Things that are easy to do?

    Put a chip in the ball
    cameras on the goal and sidelines.
    Officials not be from home market, or at least limit it to 1 or 2.
    2 men keeping time, 1 from each team.
    Officials maintain and provide all balls.

    That’s just off the top of my head.

  12. Unless Congress threatens to revoke the NFL’s anti-trust exemption, nothing is changing. And Congress isn’t threatening to revoke any sports leagues’ anti-trust exemptions, because money.

  13. Yea Rich sure. In this age of technology you can’t improve things. WOW, what planet is this guy on? The league is basically saying we will do what we want as usual. Who said or implied that video images have to be under a challenge? Simple, eliminate a few of the bad commercial time outs to gain game time to review any close call by the league not coaches. Very easy and simple. Oh but wait fans can’t demand for fairness and integrity from the National Fixed League because it will cost the owners too much money dropping some commercials.

  14. It’s so “complicated” that the CFL has been allowing it for years. Coaches can challenge pass interference both for a bad flag and for a lack of a flag. It’s part of the normal allotment of challenges, so it doesn’t slow the game down any more than challenging any other play would. The replay either shows clear and obvious evidence of a mistake or it doesn’t, just like any other challenge.

  15. Very Complicated??? OK that’s that then. Good thing he’s not in charge of anything that’s actually important in life

  16. Jon R says:
    January 31, 2019 at 9:43 am
    It’s so “complicated” that the CFL has been allowing it for years. Coaches can challenge pass interference both for a bad flag and for a lack of a flag. It’s part of the normal allotment of challenges, so it doesn’t slow the game down any more than challenging any other play would. The replay either shows clear and obvious evidence of a mistake or it doesn’t, just like any other challenge.

    ———————

    The problem is you can’t define clear and obvious mistake very well. Sorry but McKay is right. Do you review every holding call as well? Every grab by a DB? You guys giving into mob mentality at the moment don’t think of the details of what you are proposing.

  17. Are the games ‘fixed’,no,but are they ’tilted’ so certain teams or matchups happen? ….MAYBE. Players can’t cause a tilt, but the refs and home office’s non-action CAN. The NFL has lost alot of credibility IMO because of this. NO WAY I would gammble my money on todays games.

  18. Maybe it’s time the NFL get some new blood and fresh ideas instead of the traditional family members and children of others.

  19. So just what is the rationale for preventing coach’s challenges the last 2 minutes of each half? Always seemed fishy to me.

  20. The NFL can’t get out of it’s own way. As another poster stated, the CFL has been doing it successfully for years. Coaches use it carefully, as you only get so many chances, just like the current NFL system.

  21. The moronic point of this is there is holding on every play along with illegal contact and offensive/defensive PI on every pass play it is up to the refs if they want to call as Peter King puts it “ticky tack” fouls. Make it review-able and any coach needs a time out or a break to rest the defense (Andy Reid in OT) throw the flag and say there was holding on the line either way. I am sure they could find a linemen grasping a jersey, 15 minutes later the next play is run. Who is going to set bar for incidental contact verses interference. We still can’t figure out what is a catch, nearly 20 years later.

    According to this article; we should run a play, stop the clock, allow the video ref to review for penalties (I don’t know how they could review everything in 10 to 15 seconds, or do we extend the play clock?), the video refs throws some flags, most likely every thing offsets, one coach challenges that it wasn’t a foul, review again, the play stands, and finally a 1/2 hour later we repeat. The game is called after 24 hours with no decision. Good plan.

  22. fumblenuts says: ” ‘league doesn’t like the idea of reviewing judgment calls’. Why? Anyone can make a mistake Rich. Sounds like he has a VERY closed mind.”
    ——————————–

    They talk about these all the time. How much hand fighting is DPI/OPI? How about a very light push off by the WR that gives him just enough space to catch and the DB is just an inch too far to tip away the ball? How about a lineman that grabs the outside shoulder pads of a rusher but instantly releases – do you still call holding? Technically, they’re all penalties if you put them under review, or allow on field officials the JUDGMENT call of playing on.

    Point is that not every penalty is clear cut as the one last Sunday. Look at all the whining here every week about the little stuff – that’ll increase 1000% if you you allow officials to change/not change judgment calls.

  23. Legion says:
    January 31, 2019 at 10:07 am

    The NFL is so resistant to change.
    —————————————————————————————–
    The league changes the rules every year – move the extra point back, change the kick off to reduce returns, change the formations on onside kicks, change what a catch is, etc.

  24. How? PI and illegal contact are the two most, poorly officiated calls.

    You keep your same number of challenges but you can use them to PI and illegal contact calls.

    It won’t help on plays where there is no flag thrown but we see DB’s getting jobbed on calls.

  25. Akula says: “Very Complicated??? OK that’s that then. Good thing he’s not in charge of anything that’s actually important in life”
    ——————————–

    everyone that thinks it’s a simple solution hasn’t though it through with the consequences IS WHAT HE’S SAYING. There’s dozens of different factors that no one is thinking about here other than a knee-jerk bandaid solution that creates MORE problems.

    Things like:
    – pace of game, with MORE delays for reviews
    – subjective nature of some penalties like DPI/OPI like how much hand fight is allowed or incidental contact
    – as former head official Pereira said, you’d have to review the ENTIRE play for all penalties (ie on that non-call, if Taysom Hill pushed off his route 30 yards AWAY from that play, the official will have to call offsetting penalties).

  26. The false notion here is that the NFL has to stay in the replay system box.

    They have cameras everywhere. They can put RFID everywhere and have the data synced with the camera. They can have an onfield officials organizing and enforcing the game, and have them getting info from people off field. A PI or a helmet to helmet aren’t immediate whistles but enforced when the play is over. No reason the initial ruling can’t come with the benefit of video.

    It would just mean more staff, more money, and a fight with the officiating union.

    The only calls this would be problematic for are the rulings that cause a stoppage in play (such as forward progress or incomplete pass or runner ruled out of bounds). The on field officials would still have to get them right.

    And you can still have challenges, which allow a longer look and more eyes on the play. But the focus should be getting it right the first time.

    And that focus is also heightened because officials have gotten WORSE at getting it right the first time.

    Hiding behind judgment calls not being reviewable is silly, because for ‘player safety’ and other reasons, the league keeps putting new judgment calls in, massively impactful ones, too.

  27. IMO, get rid of instant replay. The implementation is horrible. Originally it was supposed to be limited to 45 seconds(?), and only overturn “Obvious” mistakes. Now they call New York, use super slow motion, super zoom, merge various angles… etc. It takes too long, if you are using super zoom and slow motion…. then it wasnt obvious, and they get half the calls wrong anyways.

  28. Goodell: It is very complicated- we’re proud of that, otherwise everyone will use their brain and think, and I will be out of a job.

  29. As stated before, judgment calls are already being reviewed. Put a guy in the booth, and let him watch TV replays, The same ones we see, and allow him to either throw a flag on blatant offensive or defensive pass interference plays, as well as the ability to pick up a flag. The blown call was a result in the ref freezing up due to not wanting to make a game changing decision. That hesitancy is the problem. It’s human error. Should be correctable.

  30. ALL calls are “judgement calls”. Plain and simple, whether it is football, baseball, basketball, etc.

    That’s why their is the challenge system…. to correct someone’ judgment: catch/no catch, inbounds/out of bounds, down by contact/not down by contact.

    Again he is trying to cover for inept officiating and the FIX. My beef is not with the PI non call but with the blatant helmet to helmet hit that the league said they were going to enforce this year. What scares the hell out of me is that the NFL is trying to tell us that these are the best officials!!

  31. “Or you could just put a video ref on every game to catch the obvious stuff that every person watching at home can clearly see. Sometimes simple works…”
    ______________

    But simple has never been something the NFL is good at. The current replay rules say nothing but clear and obvious errors are supposed to be overturned yet they stray into gray areas all the time. No reason to believe that wouldn’t continue with these changes. I firmly believe they’ll make adjustments and in short order a good non-call on the field will turn into a game-changing 50-yard pass interference call upon review.

  32. everyone that thinks it’s a simple solution hasn’t though it through with the consequences IS WHAT HE’S SAYING. There’s dozens of different factors that no one is thinking about here other than a knee-jerk bandaid solution that creates MORE problems.

    Things like:
    – pace of game, with MORE delays for reviews
    – subjective nature of some penalties like DPI/OPI like how much hand fight is allowed or incidental contact
    – as former head official Pereira said, you’d have to review the ENTIRE play for all penalties (ie on that non-call, if Taysom Hill pushed off his route 30 yards AWAY from that play, the official will have to call offsetting penalties).
    ———————–
    Why?

    – Current challenges don’t slow the pace of the game that much. Especially when it is weighed against the aspect of being right.

    – It is still subjective to the referee as they can look at it from different angles. If they are under the auspice of letting them play, the play may still not be called. Alternatively, like other challenges there has to be clear proof it happened to overrule the call made on the field.

    – Whole plays are not challengable now, why would this be any different? If someone is potentially down by contact (not called) and they run for 10 more yards. If a flag is thrown, the team tells the refs what part of the play they want to challenge (we believe the runner was touched down at the 30). If they find that the player is not touched but they accidentally give the player 2 extra, the extra 2 yards isn’t challengable. Simply say that the teams can challenge one part of the play. If the other team also thinks there is fault, they can use their challenge to try to offset. (ie we believe that #30 pushed off). Refs go review if there was PI on Robey and if Hill pushed off, nothing else. You don’t think the Saints would have been more ok with an offsetting penalty than just accepting a 4th down field goal?

  33. I hate to tell this but bad calls and missed calls will still happen even after this. People forget these games happen in real time and not in super slo mo, rewind, and pause. Technology can aid in this but I can’t wait for the day they take a winning TD off the board because a coach challenged holding on the offensive line.

  34. Is it too complicated to field officials that aren’t from one of the locations of the teams playing in a CHAMPIONSHIP game? Apparently so, right Rich?

  35. Isn’t EVERYTHING really a “judgment” call, based on available evidence, applied to the specific rule?

    For example (reviewable):
    Rule = a ball carrier is ruled down when his knee touches the ground.
    Review = ref reviews available video and uses judgement to decide if the available evidence shows whether or not the ball carrier’s knee touches the ground.

    How would that be different than:

    Example (NOT reviewable):
    Rule = a defender is deemed to commit pass interference if he makes contact with the receiver before the ball arrives.
    Review = ref reviews available video and uses judgement to decide if the available evidence shows whether or not the defender makes contact with the receiver before the ball arrives.

    Another REAL example was Edelman’s “muffed” punt – did it touch him? The call was a “judgment” based on the available evidence.

  36. “which means the replay assistant would have to look for every possible penalty and stop the game to have them reviewed.”

    No they don’t. They just have to look for blatant penalties around the ball that dramatically effect the outcome of a play. They don’t have to look for every little ticky tack thing on the far side of the field that had no effect on the play.

  37. boisestatewhodat says:
    January 31, 2019 at 11:26 am
    Is it too complicated to field officials that aren’t from one of the locations of the teams playing in a CHAMPIONSHIP game? Apparently so, right Rich?
    ——————————————————————
    I agree, that’s preposterous. I’m still flummoxed why there was no flag on the Goff face mask and the hands to the face in overtime since they were in the bag for LA!

  38. It’s not as difficult as people make it out to be.

    You don’t need to review the entire play. Make coaches challenge a specific call or no call (#42 committed pass interference but it wasn’t called, for example). Have the official(s) responsible for that area of the field involved in the review with access to the video. They know why they did or didn’t throw a flag. Allow them to use replay to prove or disprove their original call. That way you avoid substituting one official’s judgment for another’s.

    As others have said, allow coaches challenges of penalties in the final two minutes and overtime. Pointing out “problems” like that screams close-mindedness.

  39. Can we please stop with the “pace of the game” argument? Allowing coaches to challenge penalties or non-calls won’t affect the pace of the game, because they’re not getting MORE challenges, it’s just opening up the scope of what can be challenged. And, they lose a TO if they’re wrong, so less timeouts would speed up the game, no?

    I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a game called correctly than make sure it ends after exactly 3 hours.

  40. It’s a simple solution. Allow any penalty thrown or not thrown to be challenged, don’t increase challenge count, allow challenges within last 2 minutes. And finally, have a committee of 4 Video officials in the NFL HQ to review the plays and overturning the play requires a 3/4 majority vote indicating the penalty was egregiously committed or clearly not committed.

  41. Unless the current rules regarding challenges in the last 2 minutes of each half change, this is a complicated problem. If you allow coaches to challenge then only if they have a TO or challenge left, that doesn’t automatically prevent what happened to the Saints from happening again. If reviews are initiated from the booth, every single play would have fans and media pointing out something that was missed no matter how insignificant to the play it was. It’s not an unsolvable problem, but it is not as simple as people are making it seem.

  42. johncoctostan says: “Isn’t EVERYTHING really a “judgment” call, based on available evidence, applied to the specific rule?”
    ======================

    No, it is not.

    Using your example, either the knee is down or it isn’t. Clear visual evidence.

    The WR and CB could both be hand fighting/bumping/jostling for position all the way down the field. Most officials usually let this stuff go unflagged even though by the letter of the NFL Rulebook it is Pass Interference. But officials are can allow “incidental contact” meaning it’s a judgment call.

    Question is at what point does “incidental contact” become “pass interference”? You think the catch rule was contentious, this will be 1000% worse.

  43. harrisonhits2 says: “No they don’t. They just have to look for blatant penalties around the ball that dramatically effect the outcome of a play. They don’t have to look for every little ticky tack thing on the far side of the field that had no effect on the play.”
    =========================

    You don’t know what would’ve had an effect on the play.

    A CB holding a WR for couple of seconds downfield could force the QB to throw the ball away because nobody was “open”, even though the WR off-screen was illegally held from breaking open.

  44. grumpysal says: “Can we please stop with the “pace of the game” argument? Allowing coaches to challenge penalties or non-calls won’t affect the pace of the game, because they’re not getting MORE challenges, it’s just opening up the scope of what can be challenged.”
    =====================

    You provided your own answer. By expanding the ‘scope’, you’re already increasing the number or challenges available to a coach, which currently is only about 6-7 a year.

    The average review is just under 3 minutes in stoppage time. Normal timeouts are 30 seconds. Offensive momentum is getting killed and the defense gets a much-needed breakp. That’s what players mean by “pace of game” – they DON’T want stoppage that allows a defense to rest or re-group.

  45. Yet, college football can review for targeting on an unlimited number of plays during a game. That is just one specific penalty, but if they can review that penalty, why can’t they review others? How can college football get something right while the NFL claims it is too hard? Oh, wait, it will cost them money with no return revenue. That is why they have zero interest.

  46. No need for all this stuff.

    Just do your job.

    This looks horrible because it is.

    It is three zebras from the LA area blowing the most obvious call in playoff history at full speed.

    Looks worse slown down.

    Now any of the other bad calls throughout NFL playoffs history looked this bad at game speed? Not even close.

    The answer is do your job.

    The answer is make it not look rigged.

    The optics look bad because it is.

    You can say what you want about anything else. Stupid face mask call whatever. Don’t care.

    you can’t say it doesn’t look rigged you are spitting out nonsense just like Rodger.

    I saw it live section 642. Looked rigged then looks worse now.

    My season tickets would buy a nice vacation for the family.

    I guess enough of us have to do that to make a change. I guess la is doing that now by not giving a squat about either team.

    Human error judgment call is just bs.

    Replay can’t fix this problem.

  47. It would not be difficult at all.

    Each teams gets three timeouts per half for a total of six. Let the coach challenge any call made – if they have a bad challenge, they lose a timeout. And let teams use all six in the first half if they’d like but that means there would be no timeouts left for the second half – and an injury timeout would then result in a 10 yard penalty to that team.

  48. The CFL lets coaches review penalties, system works fine………..The NFL is taking the garbage way out

  49. every play should be review-able with an appropriate challenge and under the same guidance that the evidence should be clear and obvious to overturn a call. Also, coaches should be able to sacrifice TOs to challenge a play in the final 2 min if they want. Refs don’t check everything.

    We’ve seen PIs where the WR wasn’t touched and we’ve seen things like what happened to the Saints. Both cases would be reversed if challenges were allowed.

    if someone challenges a holding no-call they would need to call out the exact player they saw being held and limit the scope of the review to the actual challenge.

    There’s a way to do it without slowing down the game.

  50. Yeah, the CFL can do it but not the mightly NFL

    Translation?

    “We can’t fix games as easily with legit replay”

  51. I am not sure it’s that complicated.

    You put a ball boy on the sideline with an earpiece, that ball boy holds a flag. You have an official watch the game real time on TV and that guy tells the ball boy to throw flags based on what he sees. The visibility is better on camera. Then that official is wired in during discussions. This guy is on the ball only, cannot call holding, etc. Then on replay, this guy is the law, no booth or iPad. He watches quickly.

    Other rule changes:

    -Get rid of the hash marks, they serve no purpose and create short and long side. This would be safer and better action.

    -Limit the depth of the defensive safety and CB’s

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