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Instant replay could be changed, again

Patriots Steelers Football

An official watches a replay of a Pittsburgh Steelers safety in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. The Steelers appealed the call on the field believing the safety was a touchdown. After review, the ruling on the field stood. The Steelers won 25-17. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)


When the NFL owners meet next week in Florida, they’ll consider (as they usually do) a long list of rules changes. Two of the proposed rules relate to the instant replay system.

Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay said during a Wedesday media conference call that the committee has proposed expanding the automatic use of replay to all turnovers: interceptions and fumbles. This means that any plays involving a turnover would be subject to automatic review, without a challenge. (Of course, it also means that the coaches wouldn’t be able to throw the red flag and force a full-blown replay review.)

But the expanded procedure, if adopted, apparently wouldn’t include plays that were ruled on the field as not being turnovers, but that would be a turnover if reviewed via replay. (The same donut hole applies regarding plays that would result in a score, if reversed. Currently, an incomplete pass in the end zone currently isn’t subject to automatic review.)

Another more significant (and, frankly, necessary) change would come from a proposal made by the Bills -- moving the entire process to the replay booth, and dumping the time-consuming, protracted dog-and-pony show that currently unfolds on the field. We’ve been advocating such a change for months, if not longer. It’s a waste of time to force the referee to walk to the sideline, assume the Dukakis-in-a-tank-helmet look with those huge headphones, talk to the replay assistant, peer under the hood, watch the video, emerge from the hood, talk again to the replay assistant, remove the huge headphones, talk to the coach, talk to his crew, walk to the center of the field, turn on his microphone, and announce the final ruling.

For all proposed rule changes, a 75-percent supermajority is needed. In other words, 24 of 32 owners must approve the revision.