What really goes on under the replay hood

You can count on The Onion to have it covered.  Pretty funny.

THIS is why I’ve always wanted a ref in the studio!

The Calvin Johnson call today was so close that I could live with either call being made (although it’d have been better for my fantasy team if he’d scored…).  There was some lively discussion among friends and family, but to me, the most important part of the day was Mike Pereira’s debut as commentator on officiating matters.

He was in Los Angeles in a room with every game playing, and during official Gene Steratore’s review, he came on the screen to explain the rule.  People are going to be angry in one city or the other on that call, but the point here is that actual, real-live referee knowledge was being imparted to the people at an important moment.  Not stupid guesses by rule-knowledge-impaired sportscasters.  An actual ref was giving actual knowledge, and–this is the critical part, and a pleasant surprise–doing it before the call was made. The same commentary after the play would have sounded like an apologist, but doing it beforehand was brilliant.

Like the call or not–and like the rule or not–this might be the best development for public perception of referees in many, many years.

I’ve been begging for this for years.  This is why.

Here’s a new idea.

On the NFL Network  the other night, Marshall Faulk was bemoaning the umpire’s new position behind the offensive backfield (rather than just behind the linebackers, where the umpire used to stand).  Some, most notably the Colts, are complaining that it takes the umpire too long to set the ball and then to get into position during their hurry-up offense.  (I’ve noticed that the umpire has been in the old position during 2-minute drill situations…am I getting that wrong?)  But the NFL is concerned about collisions with umpires…there were at least a hundred of them last year, with three concussions to umpires (if I remember their conversation right).

But his solution was intriguing to me.

He suggested that the NFL put the umpire back where he used to be…but give him a helmet.

Hmmm.  Intriguing.  Would a helmet limit an umpires peripheral vision enough to make it a bad idea?  Would it confuse quarterbacks if the helmet were the same color as the offense?  Does the umpire get a better look at holding calls from the new position?  (I bet he does.)  Is it worth the disruption to crossing patterns and some running plays to enable quicker offenses like the Colts’ to snap the ball quickly?

I have no answers.  Only questions.  Maybe you have answers.