The competition committee’s proposal to the owners “will just try to clean up and simplify the language” of the replay rules, according to one of those people familiar with the committee’s deliberations. The committee’s proposal is “much more limited” than one made by the Ravens earlier this offseason, the other person said earlier Tuesday.
The Ravens’ earlier proposal, set aside by the owners in March, would have represented a significant alteration to the league’s approach to instant replay as an officiating tool by greatly expanding the scope of calls that could be challenged via replay. These include all plays subject to prospective replay reviews except for offensive and defensive holding, offensive and defensive pass interference, illegal contact, illegal use of hands, whether a quarterback or receiver or kicker has been forcibly hit (for an illegal hit) and unsportsmanlike conduct. Current replay rules specify which plays can be reviewed, rather than which plays cannot be reviewed.
Full details of the competition committee’s proposal were not available so it was not clear which plays, if any, the committee might be adding to the list of reviewable calls. The decision to make a replay proposal was finalized this week, according to those with knowledge of the deliberations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the league made no formal announcement on the issue.
The provision to permit game officials to be in contact with NFL representatives stationed at the league office in New York during reviews mirrors a measure enacted for last season’s playoffs. That change for the postseason was recommended by the competition committee and enacted by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The contact is limited to discussion over administrative issues such as the correct down and assessment of penalty yardage. On-field officials are not permitted to discuss judgment calls with Dean Blandino, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, or the other league-office representatives as part of that communication during replay reviews.
In a written statement in December announcing the changes for the playoffs, the NFL said: “In addition to the VP of Officiating’s current role in Instant Replay, this consultation will only include the appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, the proper administration of the game clock, the correct down, or any other administrative matter not currently reviewable. This will not include the ability to call or change a foul, or otherwise become involved in on-field judgment calls that are not subject to the current Instant Replay system.”
The proposal that the Ravens will make to the owners next week, calling for illegal hits to be reviewable, likely will come without the endorsement of the competition committee, which has been adamantly against making judgment calls by on-field officials subject to prospective replay reviews.
When the Ravens presented their proposal in March, the owners took no formal vote on the measure and Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay, the chairman of the competition committee, said then that the committee would attempt to come up with a replay proposal of its own for the owners to consider in May.
McKay also said that the competition committee would not propose any change to the number of instant replay challenges allotted to each team during a game. Each team currently is given two replay challenges per game and is awarded a third only if it gets each of the first two correct.