The League

Charles Mann
Pro Bowl Defensive Lineman

Charles Mann

A 12-year veteran lineman, elected four times to the Pro Bowl.

Booth Guidance Needed

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Week two in the NFL saw a number of blown calls, but a bigger issue than the officials making mistakes is the question of inadvertant whistles.

Just like in the Dallas, Philly game, last night, when DeSean Jackson threw the ball away two feet before the end zone, the stoppage of play changed the course of the game. The Cowboys defensive backs were going after the loose ball but stopped because of the ref signaled a touchdown. The whistle blew, the Eagles got the ball back and Brian Westbrook scored a touchdown. But if Dallas hadn't won, we'd be talking about that miscall the same way we're talking about Ed Hochuli's.

Unlike in Dallas, though, the Denver mistake could have been corrected without changing the rules, which I don't believe can or should be changed. What I would do is more of the two-minutes-and-in replay rule. If the booth can call for a review during the final couple minutes of a half, why not give them that power for the whole game? I understand the rule is set up to keep the flow of the game moving, but do you think Norv Turner or anyone in San Diego would trade a few minutes of review time to get the right outcome?

It's like a doctor going into surgery with a nurse, an anesthesiologist, and the patient, and they all see he's operating on the wrong leg, but no one does anything about it because it's against the rules. If you see something wrong you should be able stop it.

I don't think the game should be monitored to the point that it becomes robotic, you have to give them some leeway, but a qualified booth of officials could be available to step in and prevent season-threatening errors.

By Charles Mann  |  September 16, 2008; 1:53 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Charles Mann provides a well-stated and sensible solution. Hopefully, the NFL will take notice and work to address this issue.

Go Skins!

Posted by: Stuart Kushner | September 16, 2008 4:09 PM

Is your memory that short? The reason that the NFL *finally* adopted the current replay rules (which the USFL had had right in the first place) is that when the refs called for replays, it froze them up - they stopped making any difficult call on the field because they knew they could check it. Games were not just a few extra minutes, they dragged on forever because the refs lost all confidence. You need to limit replay use to the most important calls, which the current system does.

The fallacy in those wishing to expand it is that they believe you can achieve zero wrong calls if you just use the right formula. That will never happen, but the current system offers a balance between making sure the most important calls are *usually* right now and making the refs on the field useless. Bad decisions are part of the game as in any other sport. The fate of the best teams will not ride on a few bad calls - they are good enough that those calls just won't matter in the long run.

Posted by: BGuhl | September 16, 2008 4:40 PM

The referre obviously and admittedly made a mistake. He is a quality referee with many years of experience. Usually their mistakes are not that clear. It is a shame for San Diego and its fans, however there is nothing more to be done. San Diego just needs to beat Denver next time.

I do take exception with Charles Mann's analogy. It is always a mistake to draw analogies between football or any game for that matter and profession such as doctors or true warriors.

Posted by: DPA | September 16, 2008 5:53 PM

I agree. These blown calls costs teams games. There seem to be no penalties for Refs making bad calls. How bout we fine them for obvious blunders? When a player does something against the rules, there are penalties and possibly fines or suspensions. Refs seem to be able to screw up as much as they want and throw whole games.

These bad calls hurt the teams and the fans and can cost a team millions if it's a playoff situation. Games should be won or lost based on quality of play. Not by poor calls. Some calls will be missed, like the obvious face masks last night by Dallas. Not sure what the refs were looking at, but it wasn't the guy running with the ball. But others are just blatantly wrong and something needs to be done to repair the damage other than tell the team "sorry guys, you missed the playoffs because of that bad call. Sucks to be you."

Posted by: WAF | September 16, 2008 7:14 PM

Strange to say it, but BGUHL is entirely right and Charles Mann is off the mark on unlimited booth replays.

It was not long ago that the rules Charles Mann is advocating essentially existed, and football games proceeded at a snail's pace because every third call was a multi-minute booth review. I vividly remember when a booth replay squad could take minutes to determine ball location (i.e. first down?). The current system of "challenges" until the final 2 minutes is infinitely superior to the endless stoppages brought by unlimited reviews. If the call really stinks, challenge it.

Further, as fans can attest seeing the replays ourselves, the "definitive camera angle" is not always definitive, and is sometimes obscured or unavailable anyway.

Final thought: When's the last time we talked about a ref for making a great call in real-time, despite the noise and adrenaline (and 300-pound men)?! Reffing is the ultimate whipping-boy job: Little or no recognition for endless good work, unlimited indignation for a single mistake.

Posted by: Miguel Pakalns | September 16, 2008 8:11 PM

Refs' should be fined the same as players when they make wrong calls that are not reviewable. However, when a game is lost because a wrong call was made the "ref" should be suspended for a game. If repeated in the same season, his season should be over.

I understand that there will never be 100% accuracy but game changers can not be tolerated. Therefore, create a rule that would supercede "game changers" even after the whistle has been blown!

There's too much money involve and it could cause a team not to make the playoffs or win a superbowl. The NFL must make this change and do it prior to the second half of this season.

Posted by: Chuck | September 17, 2008 10:02 AM

Make a new rule change that would supercede a blown call even if the whistle has been blown. This new rule would be called the "Game Changer Rule"!

Posted by: Chuck | September 17, 2008 10:05 AM

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