Booth umpire would have been busy on Thursday night

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens
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Earlier this year, the Ravens proposed the use of a booth umpire, an extra member of the officiating crew who would assist the on-field officials with getting the calls right, courtesy of the available TV angles.

It needs to happen. We’ve been advocating for it for years. Most notably, a booth umpire would have instructed the on-field officials to call defensive pass interference in the Rams-Saints 2018 NFC Championship.

If the league had done the right thing and the smart thing by adopting the Baltimore proposal, the booth umpire would have gotten a baptism by fire on Thursday night in Tampa.

Several mistakes made by the on-field officials could have been quickly rectified by the booth umpire. For example, Bucs linebacker Lavonte David removed and threw his helmet after a third-down play, which should have triggered a fresh first down for Dallas, was missed by the officials. The booth umpire could have caught it. A phantom face mask tacked onto a defensive pass interference call against the Cowboys could have been promptly rectified.

On the drive that put Dallas ahead late, the Cowboys blatantly held Tampa Bay defensive tackle Vita Vea on the play that pushed the road team into field-goal range. Of course, that missed call was balanced out a few minutes later.

A booth umpire easily could have called offensive pass interference on Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin during the effort that put Tampa Bay in range to win the game.

Of course, the question is whether it would have been called. Former NFL referee Terry McAulay said during the NBC broadcast that the conduct from Godwin fit the definition of interference (“it sure looks to me like he extends and pushes off to create separation to make the catch”). And even if the right call would have been both defensive and offensive pass interference (since the defensive back initiated contact with Godwin before Godwin pushed off), the Cowboys gladly would have taken the Mulligan that would have come from offsetting fouls over the failure to call either foul.

The purpose of the booth umpire would be (or at least should be) to supplement the perspective of the officials who are in the mosh pit with an official who isn’t. The standard would be (or at least should be) for that person to tell the officials that there’s something they missed. It would need to happen quickly and efficiently; it couldn’t bog down the game. It would be (or at least should be) no different than the caucus that sometimes happens among officials before a final decision is announced.

Some may prefer the real-time imperfections of on-field officiating. As legalized gambling spreads, the broader objective inevitably will become doing whatever needs to be done to get the calls right. Whatever device the league employs to get there, it needs to get there.

Far too often, we accept bad calls as an inherent part of the game. Human error. That’s a copout. We have the ability to correct human error, in 80-inch 4K. With millions on the line through legitimized wagering from which the league will earn billions, it’s time to come up with a way to remove human error from the officiating function, once and for all.

28 responses to “Booth umpire would have been busy on Thursday night

  1. Same insanity year after year after year. How can long time fans not see this issue as agenda based officiating?

  2. On its face, a booth umpire is a good idea, but what about the unintended consequences? An eye in the sky would catch more fouls, and this would cause the players to adjust changing the game, dramatically IMHO.

  3. It’s bad enough after a good play having to wait several seconds to see the eventual flag come out from what’s basically become over-officiated games, Now you want to wait several minutes until some unseen entity passes judgement too?

    Look, bad calls happen, and a lot of these come down to judgement calls, it’s part of the sport.
    It’s like arguing balls and strikes in baseball, most of these balance out throughout the course of a season.
    You win some, you lose some, and football is no different.
    But this current push to over-officiate these games even further kills the momentum and overall enjoyment of the game.

    Some of these flag fests have become unwatchable.
    Just let them play.

  4. If the game is changed dramatically by having the players actually follow the rules, where is the problem? If Godwin can’t open without pushing off, and the DB can’t defend without holding, nullifying the play is the right thing to do. The technology is there…use it.

  5. This is an argument for NOT doing booth review. The game would have lasted till 2 AM and we would still have debates about whether the booth got it right. Each of these would have slowed the game down by 3-5 minutes. pretty soon baseball would seem exciting.

  6. When carloads of betting cash start being lost as a result of “human error”, you can bet (no pun intended) something will be done. The missed OPI changed the final score and the spread.
    Gambling is/will become an integral part of the NFL. And everyone knows how the NFL and its owners feel about $$$.

  7. It works in the Candian Football League. The Command Center will call down a penalty but aren’t allowed to slow the pace of the game. They have actually shortened the length of game up there with being able to call a challenge on PI, having the Commander Center call down missed egregious pentalies or corrections to a bad call. The CFL typically wants refs to be quick and decisive in their penalty calls in order to not slow down the speed of the game. I wish the NFL could handle their refs in a similar manner. but when they try they tend to slow things down by going overboard with going under the hood and group huddles amongst the refs.

  8. Most intelligent people could come up with a replay system where they could get all these calls correct, and still not cause any delays. In fact, they could actually speed up the game compared to the archaic system that is currently being used. It became obvious to me several years ago that the league isn’t going to give up control over the outcome if the games and point spreads. They’re just not going to let the players decide those things. For whatever reason, and money is usually the culprit, the league feels very strongly that it’s in their best interest to be able to control point spreads and wins/losses. I’m sure someone with more knowledge than me could explain why.

  9. As far as the Godwin play, it looks like both of them are playing the ball. Both of them are following the ball and not necessarily each other. They then start to tangle up but they both continue to track the ball. I think this is what played in the mind of the official who was literally right there in front of that play. Neither player turned their head to each other. In real time, it appears the defender fell down from the collision. That’s why I think the flag wasn’t thrown.

    Again, this is a judgement call that is supposed to be based on real time. It’s not supposed to be done on 10 camera angles in ultra-slo motion high definition. If we are going to have booth officials look at every single angle on every single play….games are going to be 5+ hours long.

  10. There are those in the NFL front office who always wanted any instant replay to fail from the start and they are still there. Hence the total inability to get the system right. Or at least right enough. Its all about optics. If millions watching a game can see something pretty obvious (the removal of helmet for example) no on field official can, thats a problem and will continue to be so until the NFL gets its head out of its behind on the issue….

  11. Look the Godwin play non-call was absolutely correct. The defensive back was all over Godwin with his hands around him impeding his movement BEFORE the ball arrived. Godwin did what he had to do to get to the ball. Yeah, he pushed off the DB who was interfering with him. But to call two penalties would severely punish the Bucs because the push off wouldn’t have had to happen without the interference. Nullifying the entire play would essentially reward the Dallas player for interference. This was not the usual offensive pass interference where the receiver pushes off to separate from a nearby DB, this was a receiver trying to break out of a hold.

  12. Soo, there were two non calls against the Bucs and two non calls against the cowboys, it seems to me everything played well at the end.

  13. The Buc’s didn’t cover the spread. The so called “missed” OPI call had no bearing on the point spread itself. Once Dallas kicked the field goal to go up 1 in the fourth quarter, Tampa wasn’t going to cover.

  14. The refs got the Godwin/Lewis call right. Nothing essentially happened. Lewis fell back by himself in a deliberate flop and Godwin was barely touching him after Lewis initiated the contact. It was a fair football play.

  15. I’ve been saying for years, the only solution is to call everything to the letter of the law and adjust the law as needed. This would be so simple. We have the technology.

  16. Hand checking and putting both arms on chest of the opponent and shoving him to the ground are two different things.

    Yes hand checking is ok but shoving the defender with both arms to the ground is OPI

  17. The Buc’s didn’t cover the spread. The so called “missed” OPI call had no bearing on the point spread itself. Once Dallas kicked the field goal to go up 1 in the fourth quarter, Tampa wasn’t going to cover.

    It was clear OPI. Also, did you ever consider that some people may have played Dallas on the money line?

  18. This will take even more time from the game and what makes you think they will get the call right? They never do even after reveiw.

  19. I love the comments about “extending the game”. It’s not the officiating that extends the game, it’s the constant commercials. The officiating is part of the game… and yet people are complaining about it. The commercials are what’s extraneous. If you want to shorten the game, remove the commercials. Here’s the test, watch the game speeding through commercials and then watch speeding past the officiating. Which one makes the most difference?

    If you want to shorten the game, force the networks to show the game without commercials outside of the quarter/halftime stoppage. But that won’t happen.

  20. jerry292 says:
    September 11, 2021 at 11:56 am
    As far as the Godwin play, it looks like both of them are playing the ball. Both of them are following the ball and not necessarily each other. They then start to tangle up but they both continue to track the ball. I think this is what played in the mind of the official who was literally right there in front of that play. Neither player turned their head to each other. In real time, it appears the defender fell down from the collision. That’s why I think the flag wasn’t thrown.

    Again, this is a judgement call that is supposed to be based on real time. It’s not supposed to be done on 10 camera angles in ultra-slo motion high definition. If we are going to have booth officials look at every single angle on every single play….games are going to be 5+ hours long.
    **************************************
    100% wrong. It was a blatant two-handed shove. Otherwise he wouldn’t have had any separation. And it is supposed to be done in super slow motion at ten different camera angles. That’s what replay is supposed to do. They blew it. It happens. Brady most likely would have won the game anyway, but it was as blatant as you can get. They can see it in a split-second, and radio down to the field. It would actually speed up the game, not slow it down. The current replay system is designed to cause aggravating delays in hopes that it will turn off the fans. That ploy is working well. Refs can monitor the games in real time from the booth, and radio down to the refs on the field. They could literally make the right calls as the play happens. They wouldn’t have to wait for the wrong call, and then over-turn it after a lengthy delay. The league obviously doesn’t want the players determining the outcomes of games and point spreads. I’m ok with that, if that’s what I have to put up with to watch NFL football. But it is what it is. They’re not trying to get every call correct. There’s just way too much money at stake. I’ll repeat, this can easily be done and actually take less time than the current system. It would speed up the game. The slow-down argument doesn’t hold an ounce of water. It’s lame. They have the technology. Just like the teams travel from NY to LA on jets. They don’t take horse and buggy.

  21. If you took Dallas to win and weren’t getting any points…you shouldn’t be betting on football.

  22. Yeah, there were some bad calls that affected both teams. But we had to expect a lot of whistle and flag action in the game just because of Mr. Look At Me Hochuli being the ref.

    The one that I still can’t get over is Ryan Jensen getting the unsportsmanlike flag when the Cowboys player actually punched him right in front of the official. Now we all know that Jensen loves to run his mouth and get the opposition all riled up. But now that we have this “emphasis” this year on taunting, does that mean that it’s no longer the case that the guy who physically retaliates to a taunt is going to be flagged? That’s not going to work out well.

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