Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Not That This Will Cost Anybody A Spot In the Playoffs, Or Anything

Instant Replay: “It Gets It Right”

Except when it doesn't.

Which is often.

But don't bring that up to replay supporters, because in their mind, every call that replay gets right, is somehow worth double the number of calls replay botches, or just misses altogether.

Like Obama claiming “jobs saved or created” it is a stacked, imaginary statistic.

“It gets it right.” Sure. Keep repeating that like a mantra, if it makes you feel good.

Except when it doesn't.

Or if you are out of challenges.

Or if the other team runs a play.

Or your coach forgets to throw the red flag.

Or if there's some other vague confusion going on that prevents a play from being meticulously re-constructed, pieced back together, and returned to officiating perfection.

Other than that, it's fantastic. So glad we have it. Soooooo, glad. (Ahem. Cough.)

This weekend was another example of replay's continued corrosive effect on the NFL and its rulesmakers and officiating crews. We are chasing a level of perfection that is wholly unattainable. And writing the rulebook into a dense tome of entangled definitions that make a mockery of the game.

When you hang a picture in your house, do you measure the nailhole from 6 different points on the wall, ceiling to floor, and diagonally too?

I don't. I eyeball where the picture looks like it should go, and hang it there. If that's off a bit, I move the nail a few inches one way or the other, and boom, job finished.

My wife, however, insists I take all kind of measurements.

Sometimes, the “technical center” of where a picture should be hung, actually doesn't look right. This might be because of how a window on the wall distorts your perceived “visual center” of the space.

This is like the Visanthe Shiancoe TD that was over-ruled by Scott Greene on Sunday night.

To the naked eye, it looked perfect. A masterpiece catch, hung squarely in the middle of a wall.

But nah, Mike McCarthy, playing the role of my wife, asked for 6 different precise measurements. Well, lo and behold, it was off by 2 inches. Change the nail-hole. Great, now it looks like shit.

UPDATE: The NFL admitted Monday, Scott Greene blew the call. WHILE LOOKING AT IT ON REPLAY! I await his 1-game suspension with baited breath.

Same thing on the Big Ben fumble.

To the naked eye, that's a fumble. Every day of the week. Especially on Sundays.

But I can guarantee that officiating crews themselves are less worried about getting it right on the on-field call, because they know they can just look at what happened in 30 frames per frozen high-def second under the hood.

And when they let their guard down like that, stupid shit ends up happening. Like, um, they forget to stay focused and rule who recovered the fumble – a fumble that they mistakenly thought was never going to be called a fumble, at least not until Gene Steratore put a few quarters into the replay machine and came back with the bad news:

“Fellas, it's a fumble. Who recovered.”
“Uh, I dunno, boss. We sorta forgot that.”


But hey, it only cost the Dolphins the game, and only gave Pittsburgh the win. And hey, what are the chances it could affect Miami's chances of getting into the playoffs, or Pittsburgh's hopes for home field advantage?

I'd say 80% chance it factors in one or both.

And that was why we supposedly HAVE replay in the first place. Because once upon a time, Dennis Erickson, who is a drunk, supposedly missed the playoffs and got fired, for one reason: we didn't have replay when Vinny Testaverde's helmet was stopped at the 1, and the Jets were given a TD to beat the Seahawks.


Erickson sucked, and hasn't coached in the NFL since, and instant replay is still botching otherwise basic plays that I can guarantee are going to have playoff implications.

The NFL needs to re-write, and re-apply its rules to be more “eyeball oriented” and not “frame-by-frame” oriented.

The ground SHOULD be able to cause a fumble. Hold onto it.

A catch that looks like a catch, IS a catch. Period. Those plays will even themselves out.

And personal fouls, better be something really, really mean. Like picking up a first down marker and bending it over the head of a runner who is 5 yards out of bounds and laid out on his back.

Just PUSHING a guy out of bounds, is NEVER to be considered a 15 yard penalty.

Percy Harvin is quicker and more frightening than having the squirts 8 steps away from a toilet. It is impossible to calibrate – while on the dead run as a defender – the precise moment he will cross over onto white paint.

And that's IF he even does. There's a chance he tiptoes down a 6 inch sliver of green, and goes another 40 yards, making you, the defender, look stupid.

Here's a better idea. Let's push all of the NFL's replay machines off a bridge and accept the fact that technology won't deliver officiating nirvana.


  1. REPLAY was the ONLY reason that the steelers WEREN'T awarded 6 points on the play. Replay is far from perfect but more calls are right with it then without. They just need to switch to the college rule, it shouldn't be the coaches job to officiate the game.

  2. I'm starting to come over to Czabe's side on this.

    I like that replay corrects blatantly incorrect calls.

    I don’t like that the announcers will say one thing but the referee will come back and say exactly the opposite. Apparently they don’t understand what “indisputable evidence” is.

    If they can’t figure out what “indisputable evidence” means then get rid of it.

  3. if you cant get all the "replay" calls correct with replay, then it shouldn't be used. I would piss and moan if they didn't have it and my team got screwed by it, BUT it is slowing the games down and it has become way too much of a crutch for the referees. Replay is breeding idiotic refs, the NFL has created a replay nanny state. "dont worry little referees, its not your fault you cant see or make up your mind, we will make it fair to all of you and replay it for you in high def". replay = over-rated

  4. (Disclaimer: Dolphin fan here, as I've admitted many times on this blog.)
    I, too, am beginning to come over to Czabe's side. I was thinking of these same plays Sunday night when the Visanthe Shiancoe TD was overruled (last straw) and said to my wife that instant replay has gone too far.
    Instant reply and other 'rules lawyers love,' such as the stupid rule on catches having to be picture-perfectly-controlled, have taken what I enjoyed watching as a fun, spontaneous product and turned it into a litigious nightmare.

  5. I agree with most of what czabe said up until this: "A catch that looks like a catch, IS a catch. Period. Those plays will even themselves out."

    Even themselves out? Are you f-ing kidding me?? I agree, replay sucks and it's just making refs lazier but stuff just doesn't "even out" in football. I think back to a 49ers vs Packers playoff game where Jerry Rice fumbled, the call was missed and the Niners went on to win... how the hell does that even out?

  6. It wasn't that replay didn't correct the Steeler/Dolphin call, they did figure out it was a fumble. The problem is just another aspect of the Hochuli Chargers/Broncos whistle blown problem. So no matter what the technology does, there is still the human element that can't be fixed.

    I hate NFL instant replay, just not as much as the pitch tracker during the MLB playoffs. What does the pitch track matter, the call is the call. All it does is start the whining - cue Bobby Cox.

  7. The plays can even out. The effects cannot. One can't argue that all blown calls are equal in effect. The problem isn't replay...it's as someone already said the "litigious" nature of the rules. Replay can have a place in a simplified common-sense rules overhaul.

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  9. Czabe:
    You brought up a point in this blog I've been screaming about for years, that the ground can not cause a fumble.

    The "ground" is the surface they play the game on. The ground is a huge part of the game. Of course, the "ground" should be allowed to "cause" a fumble.

    The game is slowly being ruined.........

  10. The NFL rule book is looking more like the US tax code every year and replay is to blame.
    Scrap replay and just realize that refs make mistakes, players make mistakes, and coaches make mistakes.
    If you want perfection, play Madden.

  11. So you're saying that if you see a blatantly wrong call on one of your vaunted high definition Televisions you would rather just let it go. Because Fox and CBS sure as hell aren't going to stop reviewing plays. The idea that "it all evens out" is as lucicrous as "the market will regulate itself". Do you really want a team losing a big time playoff game because an official can't see that a touchdown catch was a blatant drop? Do you really want to see the stocks collapse again because Wall Street traders can't be trusted?

  12. i would rather have the game decided on a missed call, than have it still be the wrong call, even after the play is reviewed.