As more and more calls get missed by the officials on the field even when they’re apparent to everyone watching on TV, the idea that the NFL should add a “sky judge” has grown more popular: If we can see on TV that the officials on the field missed something, why not have an official who’s watching a monitor in a booth, with the ability to communicate to the on-field officials that they’ve missed something?
Coaches plan to push that idea when the league comes together in Indianapolis this week for the Scouting Combine, but according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, the league office and the majority of officials are skeptical that a sky judge is viable.
The reality is, the NFL officiating office already sometimes communicates in real time with the referee on the field to communicate something that was missed. Most notably, during the AFC Championship Game, CBS commentator Tony Romo mentioned on the air that the officials had missed what should have been a penalty for 12 players on the field. Moments later, the officials huddled up and called that penalty, and it appeared that they had been alerted to it by the officiating office, which likely heard Romo’s words and didn’t want to have a huge TV audience in a big game hear such an obvious missed call pointed out.
If that can happen occasionally when the officiating department feels like doing it, there’s no reason it can’t be part of the regular officiating protocol, with an official in each stadium, watching on a monitor, able to tell the referee immediately when there’s an obvious missed call. But it sounds like the league office isn’t ready for it.