NFL Is Throwing the Red Flag: Should the League Challenge Its Replay System?

Patrick TeskeContributor IINovember 30, 2010

The NFL Could Do A Better Job Using Replays
The NFL Could Do A Better Job Using ReplaysRonald Martinez/Getty Images

Another week goes by following the Packers and the 2010 season, and a controversial replay (or lack of) again is part of the game.  

Late in the second quarter, in a three-point road loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez was ruled to have made a catch which converted a fourth down for the Falcons. The drive culminated in a TD for the Falcons. 

Replay on the broadcast showed the ball moved a bit and possibly could have been worth a second look via review.  Nobody on the Packers apparently had a clear enough look on the field, and Coach McCarthy later explained they didn't get a look in time to throw the challenge flag.  

In a close game, this turned out to be a critical moment where rather than blasting the official for a blown call, many folks are asking why didn't McCarthy do something to get a look at the play again.  

If you ask me, its just another example in a long list of plays where the current replay system in the NFL just wasn't enough to get the call right.  Which in the end, should be everyone's goal.  

The fact that there is some degree of gamesmanship with the current NFL replay system may appeal to some.  For me, I'd rather it be utilized to simply minimize the number of incorrect calls.  

One need look no further than college football and their current system.  Their emphasis is on getting the call correct.  I have found it has enhanced my enjoyment of college football to know that, for the most part, if there is a questionable call, an official who sees timely views of replays can buzz down to his colleagues on the field and stop play. 

This seems to be pretty efficient as the college officials do a good job of minimizing the time it takes to review and rule on a call.  It also seems to minimize the number of critical calls impacting the outcome of the game. 

The NFL, on the other hand, seems to not be able to go a week without some questionable call, either reviewed or not, having an impact on the outcome of the game. 

The current NFL system puts the coaches in charge, for the most part, by giving them two challenges.  If you are wrong, you lose a timeout, so there can be consequences to a challenge.  And unless you get both challenges correct, you are limited to those two challenges.  

While "the booth" can only call for challenges in the final two minutes of each half, it seems this format has magnified the challenge/replay system to now being a critical part of the game rather than helping the game.  

The coaches' decision (or not) to throw that precious challenge flag at the risk of a timeout can be a major decision in any game. 

I don't know if that was the NFL's intent, to make a side game out of the replay system. But I guess I would simply prefer they take a lesson from the college ranks and leave the officials in charge of replay for the most part. 

I want them to get as many calls correct as they can for the benefit of the game.  It takes away from the action of the game itself when fans and players alike are left on the short end of challenge decisions—not to mention a slight home field advantage for the team running the replay board.

Ultimately, it's still just an incorrect call by an official.  

Even if an NFL coach is 2-for-2 on his challenges and gets permitted to make a third challenge, that's no guarantee there won't be five or six questionable calls that may be unable to be reviewed under the current format.  

I'd like to see what other NFL fans think of the challenge system.  I understand it can work both ways for teams on any given day, but like I said, I think college does a very good job of minimizing the number of missed calls with their replay system.  

The NFL's system still leaves too much room for bad calls to affect the outcome of a game.  Instead of blasting officials for poor calls, we are now blasting head coaches for their challenge use.

Seems like it's half a dozen one way and six the other.  

On the other hand, I guess some replays are better than no replays.