Caution: You’re entering the replay zone

With football season rapidly approaching, it’s time to revisit the role of replay. We can debate to what extent replay should be used in football, but there’s little doubt it’s here to stay.
Let’s start with the premise that the goal of replay is getting the proper call made on the field in a reasonable amount of time.
In the NFL, each coach is allowed two opportunities per game to make a coach’s challenge. Before the 2004 NFL season, the instant replay rule was changed slightly to allow a third challenge if both of the original two challenges were successful.
During the recent offseason, owners voted to change instant replay rules for potential pass-interference calls on a one-year trial basis. Owners amended a rule change by a 31-1 vote that review of pass-interference penalties, called and uncalled, would have to be initiated by a coach’s challenge throughout the entire game – including the last two minutes of a half or game.
The issue popped up because of a blatantly missed pass-interference call late in last year’s NFC title game, which played a significant role in the Los Angeles Rams going to the Super Bowl instead of the Saints.
Rules change for a reason, and while this change is generally applauded, it comes with inherent risks and unintended consequences.
For example, the Hail Mary might cause a major Excedrin headache, because those plays are known for being more physical. If a coach has a challenge remaining, why not challenge a no-call, because there’s always a chance a replay official will determine there was too much contact on the play, and award a penalty? My hope is that the bar will be set pretty high before a penalty on a Hail Mary is overturned.
ESPN.com writer Dan Graziano is none too happy with the new NFL replay rule regarding pass-interference calls. He wrote: “The new replay rules will be a big, stupid mess and will create more big, stupid messes.
“This is a pet peeve. I get that everybody (but the Rams) was upset about a blown call helping the Rams beat the Saints in the NFC Championship game. But is making pass-interference calls reviewable really the answer we want? Forget the fact that replay reviews are terrible TV and take away from the flow and enjoyment of the game – pass-interference calls are judgment calls.
“All you’re doing by reviewing them is bringing in someone else’s judgment. There absolutely will be more controversy arising from the new rules, and I fear the league will once again determine the answer is more replay, when in fact the NFL and all of sports would be far better off with less replay, or even better, no replay, because replay review is dumb, boring, unnecessary garbage that should go away forever and let us enjoy the games again,” said Graziano.
The new rule is hardly a cure-all. Former NFL referee Terry McAuley, who now works for NBC on its Sunday Night Football broadcast, said: “As a point of reference, there were three obvious OPIs (offensive pass interference) in the AFC Championship by (Kansas City) leading directly or indirectly to touchdowns. Those would have used up all of New England’s challenges.”
McAulay also tweeted: “And what about the bang-bang play. For years, if contact occurred just a few frames prior to the ball arriving, officials were not to call a foul. If replay, shows he’s a frame early, will a foul be called? Does that mean there are now different standards for onfield and replay?”
In another tweet McAulay said: “Consider this: in two-minute drills, how many contested passes will need to be reviewed to make sure there wasn’t some type of restriction that could be a foul for DPI (Defensive pass interference).”
If you wonder what it’s like to have a good, close game without any replays or work stoppages, just ask those of us more than 60 years of age. We still remember those days.