As talk continues that the NFL should add another official who is watching the game on a monitor in the stadium and can communicate with the on-field officials in real time, a new football league will do just that.
The Alliance of American Football, which will play its first games on Saturday, will have an official referred to as the “SkyJudge” who can instantly correct “obvious and egregious” officiating errors. Mike Pereira, the former NFL head of officiating who has consulted with the AAF, indicated that the SkyJudge’s primary responsibilities will be player safety penalties and pass interference.
“If you get a helmet-to-helmet spear and it’s not called on the field, it can be picked up by the ninth official,” Pereira told the Associated Press. “He has the ability to do it in real time. It doesn’t go to replay. . . . He can call down to the field and say, ‘Hey, spearing on No. 33 of Birmingham, 15-yard penalty, let’s go.’ It’s correcting errors on the field by another member of the officiating crew without having to go to replay to do it and having a three-minute stoppage to do it.”
The AAF has positioned itself as a developmental league for the NFL, rather than a rival to the NFL. Perhaps just as players are developed in the AAF, replay officials can be developed in the AAF and then move on to the NFL as well.