Bill Belichick was in rare form during his press conference at the league meetings in Orlando on Tuesday morning.
He urged people to photoshop him into the NFL coaches picture that he didn’t show up to, and suggested the NFL hold a bake sale to raise money for new cameras at stadiums.
He also floated a plan for a significant expansion of the replay system.
Belichick wants every play — even “judgement calls” — to be reviewable.
He explained (via WEEI):
“I’m not proposing more challenges. All I’m saying is, as a coach, if you want to challenge a play, I think you should be able to challenge it. And why does it have to be limited to, I don’t know, there’s four or five pages in the rules book of plays that can be challenged, and now this year there are more proposals to amend that probably because of one or two plays that happened in the league last year.
“I think eventually, each year, there’s going to be some other circumstance, situation that comes up and we’re gonna want to add that. I mean it’s four to five pages of plays that challenge procedure. Every year it gets amended and it’s hard to keep it straight. I can’t get it right. …
“I think it simplifies it. And I understand it’s a judgment call. So, if I throw a challenge on an offensive holding play and they look at it, and they don’t think it’s holding, I lose the challenge. But if it’s an egregious play, I don’t see why it should not be allowed to be challenged when it affects the outcome of the game. I think we can find multiple, multiple examples of plays for example where the offence isn’t set, that if the officials could look at it, it’s very clear that they’re not set, that would nullify what subsequently happened. I can think of many situations where that would have affected the outcome of the game.
“So, why plays like that can’t be challenged, why other plays can’t be challenged, I think is … if we fundamentally want to try to get the games right and the plays right, then I don’t see why they should be excluded. Even though they’re judgment calls, but if you’re willing to use a timeout on that, I think you should be able to do that. It’s not going to slow the game down. It’s no different than if you challenged another play. So, I’m not looking for more challenges or anything else, just if you think it was a call that was missed, that you should have the opportunity to have the officials review it. That’s all. I don’t know if anybody agrees with that or not, but that’s the proposal.”
It’s a radical tweak because it challenges the assumption that judgement calls in sports shouldn’t be subject to review.
Plays that require individual interpretation from the referee aren’t reviewable in any sport. NFL refs can’t review pass interference. NBA refs can’t review block/charge calls. MLB umpires can’t review balls and strikes.
Professional leagues have come a long way with instant replay in the last 10 years, but there is still a protected class of play that remains outside the scope video review.
It doesn’t make a ton of sense.
The point of replay is to get the calls right. If we assume replay helps referees accurately officiate “objective” plays, the same assumption should hold for judgement calls.
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