NFL Replay's Rotting Foundation In Need Of Repair

J.C. AyvaziSenior Analyst IFebruary 26, 2017

The NFL instant replay system is flawed.

That statement should come as no surprise to you.  People have been squawking over what, when, how, and why the referees review plays for a while now. 

I believe a big problem comes from the basic framework of how they get the video to review in the first place.  The NFL uses the feed from whichever network is covering the game, be it CBS, NBC, FOX, ESPN, or their own NFL Network.

That’s right boys and girls; we are subject to unknown directors and producers to give us a replay in a timely manner which may trigger a challenge request from coaches in the press box.  Coaches on the field also look to the in-stadium video board for an idea whether to throw the red flag.  You are fooling yourself if you think a replay that would favor the visitors gets posted in a timely fashion.

This is a completely bogus way for a multibillion-dollar enterprise to operate.

Go ahead and use the network feeds.  However, to give a chance for replays to be seen, changes have to be made.  Many times, the replay doesn’t come until after the PAT, and then it’s too late.  If they know score was shaky, the offense hurries up and tries to convert the point after before a replay can be shown.

The usual director’s post score shot selection goes from celebrating players to celebrating fans, to ticked off coach who was scored on, back to celebrating players returning to the bench, on to a happy coach or two who just had his team score.  Another shot of fans gets squeezed in there somewhere.  Then we may get a replay before the PAT if we are lucky.

There should be a 60 second post score clock before the PAT can be lined up.  Or, adjust the rule to allow for a challenge of a score until the following kickoff.  The scored upon team must get a decent chance to know they are not getting hosed on the call.

Additionally, the league itself should operate cameras posted to the borders of the field.  The goal lines should have a fixed low angle camera from each side of the field.  A fixed high angle camera should be on each goal line as well.  That is a total of dedicated 6 cameras to cover questions as to penetration of the end zone.

Each sideline should have a fixed high angle camera from either side.  The end of the field from where the ball is snapped should have a tight shot, while the opposing end will provide a wide-angle shot.  This gives us 4 more dedicated cameras, for a total of 10 dedicated cameras operated by the league covering boundaries of play.

These shots should be available to the coaches in the press box instantly.  The technology exists and the league easily has the financial ability to cover the expense.  This gives both teams the opportunity to see the boundary plays without waiting for the network feed. 

Boundary plays are the one’s most often reviewed.  Why the NFL is allowing this sloppy system to continue in the face of technological advances makes one ask questions of the leagues integrity, as well as questions of the integrity of the directors.  

I am not suggesting they are all bent, but the door is left open for a shadow of doubt.  Is it about the money to do it right; are there pet teams, or pet players to be protected?

The respective networks assign their directors and producers to cover games.  The sporting public has no idea as to these folks preferences and biases.  It strains credulity to say these people do not have teams or players they like.  What if they happened to place a friendly wager on the outcome of the contest?

The league hires and monitors the referees, yet they place critical elements of most of their games into the hands of people that answer to a network, not the league.  The few games on NFL Network are naturally excepted from this particular criticism.

Directors and producers are off in cramped mobile homes adjacent to the stadium doing many jobs at once, replays are just one of them.  They are hired to cover the games; they should not be looked to provide evidence in a brief time frame for crucial officiating decisions.

Replay requires serious upgrading as to the manner the video is provided.  There have been minor touch-ups to aspects of replay since it’s inception, but the delivery framework is what needs to be addressed now.