NFL referees will be getting a little help from their friends—in New York.
The NFL has passed a provision that will allow the referee to consult with NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino at NFL headquarters while making the call during a replay review.
This change should not only make replay decisions more accurate with a second set of eyes on them but it should also speed up the process. While the referee is going over to the sideline to discuss a challenge with a coach, making the announcement of the challenge to the crowd and on TV, and trotting over to put his head under the hood, Blandino and company can be reviewing the play and deciding the best camera angle to show the official.
Although the league office will assist, the final decision on whether or not there is indisputable visual evidence to overturn the call on the field lies with the referee.
There was talk of moving the entire process to New York and just letting Blandino make all of the calls from monitors at the league offices. That is what the NHL has been doing and what Major League Baseball will start doing this year. But they decided to take this interim step, leaving the final call with the referee on the field.
Presumably, this also could lead to the league office being able to communicate with the referee during the game to correct obvious errors. There was confusion during the Redskins-Giants game last year when a first down was improperly signaled by referee Jeff Triplette. A quick buzz from Blandino could have corrected this before the embarrassing situation played out.