The NFL needs to bridge the gap between what seven officials see on the field and what millions see at home or wherever they watch the games. There’s a chance it won’t happen this year.
Peter King explains in his weekly Football Morning in America column that he’s not sure whether the expansion of the replay assistant’s duties, as proposed by the Competition Committee, will pass.
As of last week, King thought it would said through. He now writes that confusion exists regarding the powers of the Replay Assistant and the involvement of the New York command center.” King explains that one coach believes it won’t pass, and that a league official said it will be close.
To adopt the rule, at least twenty-four teams must vote in favor of it.
Actually, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for the proposal to fail. It’s a half measure, one that fails to do what needs to be done.
Here’s what needs to be done. The league needs to have a booth umpire (or a sky judge) who has the benefit of all camera angles and the power to speak directly to the referee. Officials meet and confer all the time regarding the things they see and don’t see on the field. Why not give a member of the officiating crew the power to see (and not see) what the rest of us see (and not see)?
As we explained earlier this month, the replay assistant already has a lot to do. A separate person (booth umpire or sky judge) should be used to help fix obvious errors that could drive the discussion for the next 24 hours or longer, and that person should have the power to chime in on anything and everything, not the limited range of extra powers the replay assistant would possess.
Unfortunately, the officiating department doesn’t support anything beyond limited expansion of the duties of the replay assistant. Which continues to be an invitation to disaster. Without the ability to quickly fix the next Rams-Saints defensive pass interference non-call debacle, the next one will happen.
The next one eventually will be the one that happens when 30 or 40 or more states have legalized gambling, and the blowback will include calls for congressional hearings and/or criminal investigations. When that happens, one of the reasons for it will be that the league was unwilling to spend some of that $1 billion it’ll make over the next five years via its tri-exclusive sports book partnerships on ensuring that any and all wagers legally made on the games aren’t undermined by mistakes that could have easily been avoided.
The league either lacks the ability to see this happening, or it doesn’t care. Regardless, the stage is being set for a major problem. Maybe at least 24 of the owners will realize that over the next 48 hours, dust off the Baltimore booth umpire proposal, and adopt it.