There are a lot of NFL fans that have been frustrated by officiating errors over the years, problematic decisions by timekeepers and line judges that have drastically impacted Super bowl odds.
Mistakes in the NFL are common, manifesting on a weekly basis because of the frailty of the human condition. And while most people accept that officials are human beings that make mistakes, a number of voices have begun to pressure the NLF on their passivity in the face of these mistakes.
It came as no surprise when the Baltimore Ravens proposed a re-imagining of the instant replay mechanism in a manner that would subject the majority of plays to review. There are only twenty-four calls that are reviewable under the NFL rule book.
For the Ravens, the fact that the NFL permits inaccurate and easily correctable calls to stand makes no sense; it should be noted that the NFL’s decision to discuss this team-based proposal doesn’t make it any more likely that the league will adopt it during the Charlotte, North Carolina League meeting next week.
All signs point towards the NFL creating a compromise that is far more limited than the Ravens’ proposal. The NFL has a reputation for being slow to implement radical change, even in the face of fervent calls.
Even if they fail to effect real change, the Ravens’ proposal has, at the very least, accelerated a shift in the purpose of replay, this along with forcing discussions about the NFL’s inability to evolve into the limelight.
The practical implications of adopting the Ravens’ proposal would prove very transformational, allowing officials greater opportunities to review far more calls than they do today.
Officials missed a false start by the Jacksonville Jaguars on a play last season, a decision that cost the Ravens the game. False starts and illegal bats are not reviewable within the confines of the current NFL system.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh believes their proposal would give officials the chance to get more calls right. Harbaugh empathized with fans who have watched some of these mistakes go unchallenged week after week with officials making errors that everyone, including the fans, can see but which the NFL doesn’t think should be reviewable.
NFL owners are still determined to keep the most difficult calls and officiating decisions in the hands of humans. Sufficing to say, they didn’t make Harbaugh’s job easy, the Ravens coach doing a commendable job of navigating a number of notable NFL biases.
Most sports analysts agree that the HD era requires most sports leagues to begin making drastic changes. The Canadian Football League, for example, is preparing to permit replay officials to correct ostensible mistakes in real time.
This isn’t something the NFL is likely to do anytime soon, if ever. The chances of the league even adopting the spirit of the Ravens’ proposal are low.
Human beings are imperfect. They will not stop making erroneous judgments. The League will eventually have little choice but to stop resisting the encroachment of technology-driven judgments. There is no need to frustrate fans and players due to a stubborn refusal to adopt new methods.