NFL has an early-season replay-review consistency problem
When the league shifted authority over replay review from the various stadiums to the league office, the goal was simple and clear: To ensure consistency in the application of the replay standard.
When seeing what happened in HD, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the replay function shouldn’t trigger a re-officiating of the play. The guiding principle should always be that the ruling on the field should be overturned only there is clear and obvious evidence of an error.
Earlier today, we took a closer look at whether the closer look at the interception made by Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. on Thursday night should have been overturned. Where, we asked, was the clear and obvious evidence that the on-field ruling of an interception was wrong?
Our take: There were no clear and obvious evidence of an error.
In response, a league source pointed out a Week One play that bolsters the position. On the final play of the third quarter of the Eagles-Lions game, tight end T.J. Hockenson made a catch. The ball struck the ground. It appeared to move. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni challenged the play. The league office upheld the ruling.
If making a determination without the “clear and obvious” deference, it’s not a catch. But since the decision wasn’t clearly and obviously wrong (frankly, the on-field ruling looked to be more clearly and obviously wrong than the Samuel play), the ruling stood.
Clear and obvious. Those words should be painted on the walls at the NFL’s Art McNally GameDay Central. They should be burned into the carpet. They should be etched into the ceiling. Clear and obvious. The ruling on the field gets overturned only if the evidence of an error is clear and obvious.
Even now, the human beings responsible for the process periodically yield to the human temptation to ignore the high standard and use the video evidence to officiate the play from scratch.