NFL VP of officiating details why refs still miss calls despite instant replay
On any given Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday), NFL officials are going to make mistakes — and the league is prepared to deal with a few missed calls.
In his weekly video reviewing the biggest calls, NFL senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino took a detailed look at the Denver Broncos' block and return of a PAT attempt against the New Orleans Saints in Week 10.
That play went to review after it appeared that Denver's Will Parks stepped out of bounds during his return of the blocked kick. As Blandino admits in his video, that very well might have been the case. However, he reiterated the point of instant replay is not to get every single call correct:
“The basic foundation of replay is to fix the obvious mistake. We’re not re-officiating the play in replay, we’re not there to fix every potential mistake. It’s to fix the obvious error. And if it’s not obvious, we’re not going to overturn the call on the field.”
Blandino goes on for several minutes about the league's approach to these high-leverage situations, and the video is definitely worth your time if you're at all curious about how refs miss calls despite instant replay. Put it on in the background while you enjoy your weekend before Sunday's games.
The NFL is still empowering its officials on the field and erring on the side of their initial judgment. As Blandino explains, this particular instance boils down to a lack of technology, to a certain extent. There is no high-definition, zoomed-in angle of the sideline from end zone to end zone that would allow officials to determine whether a player stepped out of bounds. Lacking such video coverage, the league is trusting the eyes of the referees who are trained to watch specific parts of the play at different times.
That's no consolation to Saints fans who feel like they got the short end of the stick — or for any other fanbase that's watched a clearly incorrect call stand because it didn't fit under the NFL's rules for what can and can't be reviewed. One can argue that with replay and the increase in television coverage, officials today have the capability to get an ever-increasing number of calls correct, and maybe that's true. Maybe we only remember the times that a catch isn't a catch because those moments are so incredible.
Or maybe it's that with all the improvement, we want perfection. It's easy to sit at home and watch the game from every angle, nitpicking everyone's mistakes. If we can see the truth, why can't the refs?
Of course, there's an obvious solution here: cameras everywhere + robot officials. Get cracking on that, sports-loving futurists.