The National Football League is not expanding replay for the 2015. After discussing it at the NFL Owner’s Meetings in Phoenix, Ariz., this week, the league has decided against including various challenges in replay, including the ability to review a penalty, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post.
Last year, there was a massively controversial call in the NFC Wild Card game between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys when Dallas was called for a pass interference penalty, only to have the flag picked up. The decision played a key role in the Lions eventually losing the game, and raised the question of whether coaches should be allowed to throw a challenge flag on penalties.
The league does not want to open up its officials to such scrutiny, and that is understandable. The officials have a tough job which takes place in real-time, and allowing their calls to be reviewed in slow-motion replays from five angles could cause all kinds of issues.
Still, the NFL should be most concerned about getting a call right. In recent years, there have been far too many erroneous penalties called which have swayed the outcome of games. In Major League Baseball, teams play 162 games. In the NBA and NHL, teams play 82. A bad call here and there, even important ones, are much less likely to change the outcome of a season. In the NFL, one horrific penalty call can be the difference between missing the playoffs and going to the Super Bowl.
While the league has a leg to stand on when it comes to limiting replay, it fails to see the bigger picture. Fans invest copious amounts of money and time into their teams. They want to see the right call made, even if the officials have to go under the hood to get it right. With only 16 regular-season games per year, nobody is overly-concerned with how long the game will take. They are concerned with the proper call being made.
The NFL had a chance to make a real difference at the Owner’s Meetings this week. It dropped the ball.