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Coaches’ subcommittee recommends video official

Ravens coach John Harbaugh wants the NFL to step up and help the referees in order to maintain the credibility of the sport.

The Competition Committee has made plenty of headlines this week regarding whether and to what extent the replay review process will, or won’t, change in the aftermath of last month’s NFC championship game. There’s one specific angle that the Competition Committee has yet to publicly or privately acknowledge in conjunction with the commencement of the official preparations for the 2019 league meetings.

It’s the video official. Specifically, an extra official who would monitor the available camera angles and who would be available to correct egregious errors in real time -- not as part of a second look but as part of the first look, but with the unique perspective of seeing what we all see when watching the game on TV.

Per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, the NFL coaches’ subcommittee has recommended a video official to the Competition Committee. The Competition Committee initially didn’t react to it with enthusiasm, but as one source observed there’s no good argument against it. While some will wring hands and gnash teeth regarding the possibility of unintended consequences or a parade of horribles involving the video official not knowing the the seven officials on the field have, for example, opted to issue a warning instead of throwing a flag for defensive holding, there’s a way to craft this approach in a manner that will provide an umbrella of protection to the officials, ensuring that mistakes are avoided before the they become final and official and unavoidable, making the officials look incompetent and the league look inept.

Surely, that’s not what the league wants. And if that’s what the league gets, eventually the Commissioner will get an invitation to appear before Congress to explain why the NFL isn’t doing more to ensure that hard-earned money wagered legally by American citizens is being placed at risk not by the skills and abilities of players and coaches but by the correctable-but-uncorrected blunders of the folks in black and white stripes.

This isn’t the time to circle the wagons or to hunker down or to adopt and us-against-them mentality. This is the time to learn from a glitch that marred the NFC title game and prevent it from happening again. Whether the Competition Committee and/or the owners realize and embrace this will be one of the biggest questions confronted by the league over the next month.