Monday, October 17, 2011

National Football League (NFL): All “supposed” scoring plays Under Review this season

By: Evan Troxel

This season the National Football League (NFL) is undergoing a change.  Now that the NFL lockout has been over, almost every issue dealing with the NFL before the lockout started early this year has seemingly disappeared.  The new issue that will definitely arise at the end of this season (if it has not already) is looking at plays “Under Review” on what the officials “claim” as a scoring play.

To those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “Under Review,” it is when a play is looked at or reviewed via video and/or instant replay from many camera angles.  It is usually used to determine if a pass was completed (caught) by a wide receiver.
A completed pass is when a player on the offensive team catches the football and stays within the boundaries of the playing field.  I don’t know all the NFL Rules in detail but in general a completed pass is completed when a player catches the football, maintains possession or control of the football, and gets two feet to stay in bounds or at least one knee.
So, what is a caught pass or a catch?  What?  A catch is when a person holds onto something (usually a ball) that was thrown into the air by something and grasps it before touching the ground and it doesn’t have to be caught within any specific boundaries to be considered a catch.
I believe that in Super Bowl XLIII when Pittsburgh’s wide receiver Santonio Holmes caught the “so-called” game winning touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Rothelisberger that if that play would have been ruled just a catch and not a “completed pass” by the field officials then the play even if it would have been “Under Review” would have been ruled an incomplete pass.  I still believe to this day that one of Mr. Holmes’ feet didn’t touch the ground (in bounds when he finally maintained control of the football).  

Yeah, I know the play was “Under Review” (under two minutes left in the second half) anyway, but if the field officials had claimed Rothelisberger didn’t complete the pass to Holmes inbounds (even though Holmes still caught the ball, I will give him credit for that) then it’s highly likely (I think) that the replay official wouldn’t have overturned that ruling either and the Arizona Cardinals probably would have won Super Bowl XLIII.

To make my point, you can catch a ball but it’s not necessarily a completed pass.  The ball always has to be caught before it can be considered a completed pass.

When a play is “Under Review” it is always after what the officials “claim” as a scoring play.  Also, any play (not just scoring plays) can be “Under Review” within the last two minutes of the first and second halves if the play appears to be a tough call to officiate correctly and only and ultimately the “replay official” wants to look at it.  Any play can appear to be a tough call to officiate correctly within the last two minutes of the first and second halves but the “replay official” ultimately doesn’t have to look at it if he/she doesn’t feel it’s necessary to change “the call on the field” (the field officials’ officiating).

A “Coaches’ Challenge” is when a head football coach wants the officials to look at or review a play via video and/or instant replay from many camera angles.

Now for my thoughts…Why did the NFL suddenly want all scoring plays to be reviewed?  They must be obsessed with getting the officiating right because they don’t want the field officials to mess up a call.  

Then again, who’s in charge of the officiating here?  The reader of this is thinking, well, what do you mean?  I mean that there is or there are video and/or instant replay nerd(s) who ultimately get to decide what happens in a game(s).  

Yeah, so?  The field officials such as the referee, umpire, line judge, etc. show their faces in public and on television every NFL Sunday.  The so-called “replay official” by television commentators doesn’t ever have their body or even face shown, much less the television viewer doesn’t get to know their name(s).  

I think if you are going to be an NFL official you should be required to at least show your “live” face to the world.  If the so-called “replay official” doesn’t have the guts to run out onto the football field and explain the ultimate result of the play after video/instant replay review, then I don’t think he/she should be allowed to make that call.  

At least in Super Bowl XL when Pittsburgh’s quarterback Ben Rothelisberger “supposedly” scored a touchdown late in the first half when it eventually became a “Coaches’ Challenge” or “Under Review” (not sure which one), referee Bill Levy had the guts to go out onto the football field and stated what he felt was the right call.  I say “supposedly” Rothelisberger scored because I don’t think he and the football ever made it to the uncontroversial end zone (while in midair) but he and the ball did make it (in midair) to the white line called the goal line but that is not the end zone. 

According to Wikipedia: In gridiron-based codes of football, the end zone refers to the scoring area on the field. It is the area between the end line and goal line bounded by the sidelines.
Wikipedia also states the following: The goal line is the chalked or painted line dividing the end zone from the field of play in American football and Canadian football. It is the line that must be crossed in order to score a touchdown.

But then I have to ask, why is that white line called the “goal” line?  According to Wikipedia it states as above in the previous two paragraphs that “it is the line that must be crossed in order to score a touchdown.”  The goal line is not the goal, the end zone is the goal!
If a team gets to the goal line and doesn’t cross it a team doesn’t score any points.  The only other thing I have to say about this is that the NFL needs to make its rule(s) more clear if what I stated in the previous sentence is “incorrect.”  Yes, that’s what I said and you read that right, “incorrect.”  If what I typed 3 sentences ago is a touchdown then the NFL definitely needs to make their rules more clear, TODAY!

Again, the call on the field was the determinant (I think) in the “supposed” Ben Rothelisberger touchdown as I explained earlier.  I feel like Santonio Holmes’ touchdown has a better chance to be the correct officiating than Ben Rothelisberger’s.

Then (in Super Bowl XL), the referee along with a “replay official” made all decisions on “reviews” and “challenges” and I think since after that game, the “replay official” and his/her video/instant replay review cohorts make that decision.  

Finally, to get to the core and point of this article, I like that the NFL Reviews every scoring play but then what should the NFL do about “Coaches’ Challenges?”  Should they get rid of them?  I don’t think they should.  

Perhaps there should be one less challenge for the coaches and rules modifications which I’m not going to get into detail about today.  I’m just throwing this idea out there, perhaps coaches should be allowed to challenge once per quarter.  Perhaps also, a game in overtime like the last two minutes of each half should be in “Under Review” mode.  

Why should there be one less challenge?  The reason is, all scoring plays are challenged (including field goals).  I’ve waited a long time for them to look at field goals to be reviewed or challenged.  Also, with too many challenges, a coach can control how the game plays out and the way his team wants it to result in. 

My thoughts on “Coaches’ Challenges” as I have mentioned above are of the mindset to make future NFL games to be as close as possible to what it was before the “Review of All (claimed) Scoring Plays” rule went into effect (which I just made up in quotation marks).
If a tie cannot be broken between two different results of one play then maybe the play should just be a do-over.  But, I don’t like do-overs (especially when a person is on the winning side).  I want to say more about this but I’m just going to leave this article at that.

This season starts a New Era in the Life of the NFL.  Enjoy it while it lasts. 

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