AAF offers fans an inside look at instant replay decisions


The first game of the brand-new Alliance of American Football is underway, and we’ve already seen something we’ve never seen before: An inside look at the instant replay decision-making process.

When a San Antonio deep pass along the sideline was initially ruled complete by the officials on the field, it went to replay review — and the TV cameras and microphones showed the viewing audience the replay official discussing the play with the referee on the field. The call was overturned, and we got to hear exactly what the replay official has to say.

“Here’s what I’ve got: I’ve got only one foot in plus loss of control, so we are going to go incomplete pass on this play, so we’re going to go back to the previous spot,” the replay official informed the referee. “The previous spot was the minus-42, and the clock should be forward 12, the time of the incomplete pass.”

That kind of transparency is great for fans, and it would be great to see the NFL adopt the same level of transparency: Put a camera and a microphone in the NFL’s officiating command center and give the fans at home an understanding of exactly how head of officiating Al Riveron comes to his decisions on replay reviews.

Unfortunately, not everything has gone smoothly on the officiating front: The AAF made a big deal about its real-time replay official, known as SkyJudge, but when the officials on the field made an obvious mistake, SkyJudge failed to correct it: A San Antonio run on third-and-4 was clearly short of the first down, but the officials on the field blew the call and gave San Antonio the first down, and the SkyJudge didn’t fix it. SkyJudge’s primary focus will be player safety rules, plus pass interference in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter, but why have a SkyJudge if he’s not going to correct such a call?

So it’s been a mixed bag of officiating tonight. But even a mixed bag is valuable, as the AAF can serve as a kind of laboratory to see what works and what doesn’t, and what the NFL should adopt.

50 responses to “AAF offers fans an inside look at instant replay decisions

  1. I’m watching Fleet-Commanders and it is actually really fun. Big plays, crowd participation, and transparent officiating make a great mix. The only drawback is how the AAF is aggressively positioning itself as a feeder league for the NFL. What they should be doing is setting themselves up as an alternative to the sloppy, “woke” flag football being crafted by Roger Goodell, the worst Commissioner in the history of organized sports.

  2. Entertaining game. Decent players. Putting the refs on when they’re discussing things certainly makes the game more transparent

  3. Already complaing about calls.. gezzzz they can’t get them all right and they miss calls in all sports on all levels even youth sports

  4. This isn’t new. The Arena Football League used to do this before it folded the last time. They would show the ref watching a big screen tv while mic’d up. Transparency is a big thing, and the NFL can’t understand that.

  5. The shortened playclock is moving things along pretty nicely. For a 6-0 game it feels like there’s been a lot of big plays. This is much better than I thought it would be – enjoying this more than a random NFL game that my team is not playing in.

  6. @weepingjebus
    Sorry dude. But your aunt a Rodger Goodell baby whining complaining is just dumb.

    The reality is this legal only survived because it is a feeder lead to the NFL.

    I suspect the XFL will fail miserably because of its attempt to be a so-called alternative to what you consider to be a lousy League.

    Just so sick of you children complaining about Rodger Goodell when all he does is continue to make this league successful.

  7. One half in and I’m sold. I am signing up with the boys of Taffy 3. They ain’t gonna sink this battleship, no way! Go Fleet!

  8. League is better football than I thought it would be. Game moves along at a crisp pace. Maybe I’ll stick around… we’ll see.

  9. This game is a snoozfest! Am i watching the same game as everyone else?? I gave it a shot. I think its good to have an ametuer league to the nfl. But people will want a break from the game itself. On to mlb season!!

  10. I am watching the Fleet vs Commanders game. This is good stuff. MERGE WITH THE XFL NEXT YEAR. The XFL has the bigger markets, which is their advantage. Can’t see two spring leagues working. I’d say the AAF is off to a great start and I’ll be tuning in to tomorrow’s games.

  11. It’s really much better than I expected it to be.

    Honestly , there is no reason it can’t work . If the NFL were smart they would work with them. Some guys just need some time to develop – you can’t tell me that some of these guys catching balls aren’t better than the 3rd or 4th guy on some nfl teams

  12. Someone else already mentioned this, but the play by play and color commentary is better than a Monday Night Football game by at least a factor of 10. This is making me think even less of the MNF crew, which seemed impossible a few hours ago.

  13. Watching the Orlando Atlanta game. The play is better than expected and the pace is great! The quality and transparency of the officiating is refreshing from the NFL major-play botches. There’s a passion about this game play because the players are hungry and still have something to prove or just love playing. This is a great alternative to a Goodell run league! Bravo!

  14. Yeah not bad. I’d keep watching. Interesting to try to recognize players who washed out of the NFL. For example, Denard Robinson.

  15. Ripwarrior is right. Totally an NFL feel to the game. I’m from San Diego and hope this league takes hold. It’s gonna be a steep climb but I think they can do it.

  16. I actually felt this was better than I expected it to be. The crew was surprisingly better than most NFL crews. The ref transparency was nice. The lack of commercials is always welcome.

    I’d watch more.

  17. I’m actually sad I only got to watch the first quarter, a few production gaffes but holy cow, the players got to play football and the commentary was not overbearing. The groan from the fam when they realized football wasn’t over and dad was watching a game was a bonus.

  18. I liked watching the game but it is weird to not see blitzing. The QB hit I saw at the beginning of the SD vs SA game was brutal and like the old NFL. The QB’s helmet came flying off!

  19. With the field and sideline mic’d it is annoying having both the TV booth talking and the volume on the field and sideline mics at the same levels. Sound disaster.

    I also hate Tiki Barber with a passion so that ruined most of the 35 mins or so I had time to watch.

    I can see why Polian wanted to not allow exotic blitzes. The offensive line play is awful in this league. The QBs would get killed, but they still need to do away with that blitz rule at some point because it hurts the game in a big way.

    Like the having to go for 2. Don’t like the no kickoffs or the overtime rules.

    Love Melanie Collins. She wasn’t doing the game I watched some of though👎

  20. The SkyJudge is there so people don’t complain about a missed PI again, not fix every missed call because again its not realistic especially not in a developmental league.

  21. I liked it. Liked the replay. The game was better action than many of the NFL Thursday night games I have had to suffer through. Liked the big hit on the Fleet QB when helmet flew off. NFL official would have thrown flag for defenseless QB.

  22. It shows the NFL is not all as great as it is promoted. We have been conditioned NFL is a big step from college when in reality not so much. We put a NFL uniform on a player and now he is the elite maybe not so. Good game to prove it has some guts.

  23. I have been wanting to hear the replay conversations for years and they need to play them and the phone call with NY over the stadium audio system. They won’t ever do that though. The reason is fairly simple. ANY argument whatsoever means the call on the field stands. If the fans heard the conversations they would really know whether the bogus calls are incompetence or intentional corruption. There would be no hiding it.

  24. Only less than 300 players get to be drafted in the NFL from colleges. And there are hundreds of undrafted players ended up on the street not in game condition. This developmental league provides the necessary outlet to keep these players in game shape while earning a paycheck before, if they well, they get another crack at the NFL. Good concept!

  25. This developmental league’s schedule is sandwiched between the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft in late April. It’s brilliant scheduling. And it’s still football so I’ll try to catch some games. And I don’t have to hear about the dreadful March Madness!

  26. Bring back football. No one likes injuries in the process… but its the game…it’s why the outrageous salaries are somewhat acceptable even though teachers should make more than these guys. Imagine if we just told firefighters to show up when the fire was over to avoid the risking of injury…. they’d tell you wtf…. its what i signed up for. If these guys cant deal with the risk of injury…. go find another career….that simple

  27. Either the Sky Judge, or the ref on the field should have the final say. It should never be a debate. In the Orlando / Atlanta game the female Sky Judge kept talking about what she saw. Obviously she was going to rule one way, then the ref on the field saw it differently. It was confusing since she was miked up and talking thru the whole replay about what she was seeing, only to be overruled by the field ref. It made the Sky Judge look completely inept. I call that confusing, not transparency. That the only thing I didn’t like. One person make the final decision, not two.

  28. alongthegulf says:
    February 10, 2019 at 12:49 pm
    Either the Sky Judge, or the ref on the field should have the final say.

    I think you have the wrong take on this. On the incomplete pass in the EZ for Orlando, she initially wanted to uphold the field call. However, as she kept replaying the angles, she finally realized that the receiver had a catch and then an elbow down which rendered him down with possession and thus a TD. A lot of what she was doing was talking her way through the replays as she watched, explaining what she saw as she was reviewing. Since we don’t hear the audio from the Referee nor do we see if he is getting to watch what she is watching, I don’t believe they were “arguing”.

    The system could use some tweaks but I think Polian is aware of that. The key will be to keep gate attendance up and and eyeballs on the t.v./phone/tablet to keep advertisers in the mix.

    Some of the team nicknames are the same old gimmicky non-entity names that got dreamed up back in the 90’s, the two tones of red on San Antonio were bleh, and the officials’ shirts were just awful. The o-lines need work but defense is usually ahead of offense from high school on up. It was, for the most part, real football which gives it a leg up on Arena/Indoor football.

  29. Well, it backfired on them big time in the Memphis game. The replay guy completely laid an egg. They mean well. It’s a great idea, but they should have 2 or 3 guys in the booth and it doesn’t need to be televised. Why put extra pressure on the guy? We just want to get the calls right. We don’t need to see how it’s done as long as it’s right. We’re not a bunch of tech geeks, we’re football fans. The technology is only as good as the humans. Yeah, I’m sure the NFL is dying to copy this stuff. Lol.

  30. Very hard to watch, maybe if they had a team from the North East Region someone I can get behind, hard to root for a southern team? I really want too though!

  31. Could we get these guys to recreate the NFL league-wide study on PSI levels of the footballs? But this time publicly release the results instead of pretending they never conducted the study in the first place and ignoring all follow-up questions about it?

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