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.