Largely thanks to referee Jeff Triplette, who has had a rocky two weeks, along with other questionable calls and the length of reviews impacting games, the NFL highlighted a new narrative about the instant replay system. Two weeks ago, a first down was erroneously called for the Washington Redskins, only to have the call corrected after a deep pass as third down. Triplette said that the officials had third down, but the chains were incorrectly moved -- despite the fact that one of the side judges motioned the chains to move on a first down. No stoppage. No replay.
Then there's Cincinnati's fourth down conversion at the Colts one-yard line, when it appeared that BenJarvus Green-Ellis was tripped up in the backfield by a Colts defender, landing one-yard short of the endzone that should have resulted in a turnover in downs. Instead, Triplette viewed the replay, reversed the call and awarded a touchdown to Cincinnati.
As a knee-jerk reaction, the league began contemplating alternatives, such as having all replays centralized. Bengals head coach, Marvin Lewis, who benefited from Sunday's fourth down reversal, doesn't support the idea and doesn't believe that the competition committee will pass a resolution.
"The guy on the field should be in charge of the game. You want to put somebody else in charge of the game?" Lewis said via Bengals.com. "What if we have three at once? What are we going to do? Who makes that decision? You're defeating your purpose. It's like Wizard of Oz. You've got Oz. Some guy behind the curtain."
The proposed replay change that's generating the most conversation, originally reported by Peter King and Mike Florio on NBC's Sunday Night Football, is similar to the NHL's -- something that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that they're reviewing and conducting studies on. Recently the NFL sent a representative to the NHL's situation room, where replays are funneled.
Mike Murphy, the NHL's senior vice-president of hockey operations, raves about their system, which employs real-time cyber-optic technology and "it delivers images practically instantaneously, and much faster than satellite", which was implemented two years ago.
"Oh, there’s no question. It has brought consistency. We do 1,230 games. The same group of people work here every night. They make the same decisions night in and night out. We like to think we’ve brought more accuracy to it, which I think we have, because our technology has improved so much.
"On a given night, we’ll see six, seven, eight, nine reviews. We’ll have four or five formal reviews — and we’ve actually been able to reduce our reviews because our real-time feeds tell us things immediately … Where in the past we relied on satellites, we had to wait for the stoppage of play, stop the play, wait for the TV people and production people to come up with the replays to make the decision. So our new real-time technology has been outstanding in speeding up our game and having fewer reviews."
But to Lewis, this is all magic and he apparently hates magic like Voldemort hates muggles. We wonder how Lewis would respond if he had been on the other side of the Tripplette gaff last week. Either way, other organizations have evolved their replay system over the years and for those respective entities, it's worked. And the NFL, the country's most popular sport and biggest revenue-industry in professional sports, need change.