AAF’s Sky Judge makes first key call, throwing a flag that had been missed

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As the NFL contemplates whether to add a video official who would be responsible for correcting certain obvious blunders in real time, the Alliance of American Football already is using this approach. And, for the first time during the AAF’s inaugural season, the Sky Judge made a call that the officials on the field had missed.

It happened in the third quarter of Sunday’s game between the San Antonio Commanders and the Birmingham Iron. Commanders defensive back Duke Thomas applied a big hit to Birmingham receiver Tobias Palmer on a pass that fell incomplete. No flag was thrown on the field, but the Sky Judge intervened, ordering a penalty of Thomas for targeting a defenseless receiver.

“The Alliance added the Sky Judge to correct obvious and egregious officiating errors without going to replay and unnecessarily delaying the game,” AAF officiating consultant Dean Blandino said in a statement. “We place an emphasis on player safety, and want to ensure a win or loss doesn’t come down to a missed call.

“In this instance, the Sky Judge observed the hit on . . . Palmer and determined it was a violation of the defenseless player rule and put him at risk, so the decision was made to enforce a penalty. It was the first time the Sky Judge has come into play this season, and player safety is certainly a trigger for such a ruling.”

With the annual league meetings only three weeks away, here’s hoping the NFL is paying very close attention to what the AAF is doing when it comes to quick and easy ways to fix mistakes, to promote player safety, and, ultimately, to preserve the integrity of the game.

8 responses to “AAF’s Sky Judge makes first key call, throwing a flag that had been missed

  1. The Not Fast League will only consider this option in 2028 after congress has asked them why is hasn’t done anything yet…

  2. So no calls have been missed or needed correcting up until now ? That’s amazing. These refs should be doing nfl games if they are that good. There’s at least a dozen or two missed calls on opening day of every NFL season. You can’t make it to halftime of the opening game without a referee miss.

    IMO just another set of potentially non-objective, imperfect eyes. Feel good gadgetry. Hundreds of calls are missed each week and each, no matter how seemingly insignificant, are just as likely to affect the final result as are plays that happen near the end. We seem to only remember or car about the last hing we see rather than being reflective and accepting of the strikes and gutters that are football and life.

  3. It’s a simple yet elegant solution, and best of all wouldn’t have to be intrusive. I’d love to hear the argument against!

  4. I actually watched the game, and it was definitely a penalty. It’s tough to tell at game speed, but this was the right call as the defender hit the receiver right in the head.

  5. Just really happy to see this new football league get going. Sick and tired of NFL politics by the owners and the league. Hopefully we can get back to exciting playoffs.

  6. The ultimate way of fixing games. The all-seeing eye can make any call at any time.

  7. Redsoxu states this is non-obtrusive– how –still another ref making judgement call after seeing play few times with different angles at different speeds – let coaches challenge anything and do NOT have them lose a challenge if correct.

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