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Replay could be heading to central location, eventually


With the NFL’s officiating function under siege, a key change could be looming.

Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, the Competition Committee’s annual offseason discussions regarding officiating have in recent years included a conversation about removing the instant replay function from the game site and transferring it to a central location -- presumably to the league office in New York City.

That possibility is expected to be on the offseason agenda once again.

Peter King of explained during Football Night in America that, apart from a desire to avoid the kind of head-scratching decision made by referee Jeff Triplette in Cincinnati on Sunday, the move would help trim the total time of NFL games.

We made that case back in January of 2012. Plenty of time currently is wasted with the dog-and-pony show that currently unfolds on the playing field, with the referee trotting to the sideline, donning the Dukakis-in-the-tank headset, talking to the guys upstairs before the replays are shown, getting under the hood to watch the various replays, emerging from the mobile booth to have more discussions, determining the precise ball placement if necessary, informing one or both coaches about the decision, trotting back to the field, and explaining the outcome to the rest of the world.

The mistake made Sunday by Triplette, who overturned a call on the field of no touchdown without indisputable visual evidence, resulted in a five-minute, 13-second gap between the end of the play to the announcement from Triplette.

With the average length of games currently at three hours and eight minutes for 2013 (according to King), centralizing replay would streamline it.

Besides, if the referees are going to continue to apply the wrong standard to the replay function, substituting their own judgment for the question of whether indisputable visual evidence exists to overturn the ruling on the field, the referees have no business juggling that role with everything else they do during a game. It’s far better to export the function to the league office, like the NHL already does.

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