The NFL Needs To Cut The Crap And Expand What Is Reviewable
And so sloppy officiating decides another NFL game, as league Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino admitted on the NFL Network on Monday night. Officials blew the call that gave the Seahawks a 13-10 win over the Lions, when Calvin Johnson's goal-line fumble resulted in Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright illegally batting the ball out of the end zone. That should have resulted in the Lions getting the ball at the 1 with about 1:50 left to play.
Instead it was ruled a touchback, and Seattle held on to win. "In looking at the replays it looked like a bat," Blandino said, "so the enforcement would be basically we would go back to the spot of the fumble and Detroit would keep the football."
Why no replay review, even though the play resulted in a turnover? Apparently, that particular play is not reviewable, under NFL rules. Why not? Look, it just isn't, OK? The NFL has its reasons.
But actually the NFL doesn't have any reasons. The procedure on deciding which plays are reviewable and which aren't is that there are no rules. It works like this: there are a handful of plays which the league decided are subject to review. The rest are decided as they come up. So when a team like the Lions gets screwed on a bad call, the NFL committee looks at it, and decides (usually) to add that to its expanded list of reviewable plays.
Which may be of solace to the 2021 Los Angeles Chargers, or whichever NFL team is next victimized by a batted ball in the end zone, but does no good for the current, winless Detroit Lions.
There's no earthly reason that every play in the end zone, especially one as significant as that one, can't be reviewed. There's no reason that any play at any time can't be challenged by a coach. Of course the officials can look at it and determine that there isn't enough evidence to overturn the call -- but declaring something "not reviewable" is asinine.
Actually, though, the whole concept of video review is stupid.
Steve Young had the best take, I think, on replay review in the NFL -- he didn't like it. In 1999, when Young was still a player, he was asked what he thought of the new rule that we more or less use today. Young, a traditionalist in that regard, said that the league didn't need it.
"In football," he said, "things tend to even out on their own."
And they really do. Monday night's batted ball occurred in the same end zone as the infamous "Fail Mary" catch by the Seahawks against the Packers in 2012 -- another gift which gave Seattle a win it didn't deserve. But the Furies are alive and well in the NFL, dispensing justice and vengeance with no help needed by our technology. When the Seahawks lost the Super Bowl on an interception at the goal line this past February -- another fluke play, let's face it -- don't you think that offset both Fail Mary I and II? Monday night's win over the Lions quite possibly saved Seattle's season, but you'd better believe that Seahawks fans would trade that in an instant for another shot at the end zone in Super Bowl 49.
There's no escaping it -- the mischief gods who live in the underworld and torture the damned will have their amusement, no matter what the NFL does. No amount of technology will ever change that.
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