Who will show leadership on replay expansion?
The storm clouds are hovering regarding the question of expanding replay in order to avoid a recurrence of the uncorrected bad call that marred the NFC Championship.
In one corner, the folks who realize that a failure to improve procedures can create all sort of problems for the league, in an age of legalized gambling and, come 2020 if not sooner, enhanced governmental regulation of private business. In the other corner, those who regard the incident as a freak event, a 100-year storm that won’t happen again during their lifetimes.
The right approach is to implement a fix. The question is whether the league will do the right thing on Tuesday.
And the biggest question within that question is whether someone will show leadership when the time comes to take up the subject among the league’s owners.
The Commissioner would be the obvious person to do it. But with his career moving toward a conclusion and with his political capital arguably better saved for negotiating a new labor deal and new TV contracts, there may not be a desire to roll up sleeves and clunk heads together on something that most likely won’t repeat itself during his remaining tenure, however long (or short) it may be. It’s a problem, as a practical matter, for the next Commissioner.
But it’s also a problem for the current 32 franchises. And if the Commissioner won’t be twisting arms to get there right thing done, a push from within ownership becomes critical. For Tuesday, that’s the question that lingers in the hot, dry (still hot even if dry) air of Arizona: Who will make the owners realize the business and political dangers of complacency and inaction on this critical issue?
As Saints coach Sean Payton said Monday, inaction means that “ownership is saying they’re comfortable with what happened.” Ownership shouldn’t be. When the owners get in the room on Tuesday, one or more of them will need to be willing to push back against those who scoff at the idea that recent history will repeat itself.