In case you missed it earlier this week, the NFL passed new replay rules in response to last year’s NFC Championship Game missed pass interference call. Under the new rules, pass interference calls, or perceived missed PI calls, are now reviewable under the same standard as things like fumbles, catches, etc.
While it’s not a bad thing the NFL wants to make sure they are getting calls right, this solution doesn’t exactly fix the problem at hand, it more just moves the burden. Once again, the NFL is putting a band-aid on a broken leg, trying to fix a complicated issue with a simple solution.
The fact of the matter is the new rule does nothing to REDUCE bad calls, it will only overturn them once they are made. For one thing, that will extend the length of games without adding any real action, due to the increased volume of replay reviews. On top of that, every bad call will now be blow up, replayed, and dissected multiple times immediately after they happen on every broadcast, which is not a good look for the refs or the league itself.
How about instead of installing a failsafe that makes up for inconsistent officiating, put together a system that better trains and prepares officials for working in the NFL, so there are less blown calls to begin with. The easiest way to accomplish this? How about finally making the NFL officials full time employees? Full time officials would be able to watch more tape, and get more reps during practices and training camp. The NFL has enough money, and then some, to make this happen, but it classic NFL fashion, they’re sticking with their business plan of “if it ain’t completely broke, don’t spend money to fix it”.
Other options? In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about the NFL developing a minor league system. This could be more than just beneficial for the players, as the league could use minor league games to train and evaluate new officials. Even working out a deal with a league like the AAF could help the NFL get a jump start on getting new referees started.
Bad calls will never be completely eliminated in sports. The human element is part of why we watch, for better or worse. Allowing those plays to be reviewed and/or overturned certainly helps, but it should not be considered the solution to the problem. More levels and a more rigorous training and evaluation system would help raise the level of officiating in the NFL, and weed out those who can see the game correctly and those who can’t. Let the mistakes be made in practice, the preseason, or the minors, not in a spot as big as the 4th quarter of the NFL Championship Game.