The NFL Challenge System Needs to Be Revamped

NFL Challenge System

Officiating in professional sports is a very tough thing to do. After all, you must keep an eye on many things at once while the most athletic humans in the world are operating at a high level. Making the correct call can be incredibly difficult. In baseball, an umpire has to discern the minuscule difference between a strike on the corner or a ball. The most officiating mistakes most likely occur in basketball, and this makes sense. Whether or not a call is a foul is fairly subjective, even in replay. Fortunately, the nature of basketball prevents bad calls from swinging a game. After all, a single possession caps out at 3 points and teams will generally score more than 100 points. The NBA implemented a new challenge system this season, but it was not a pressing issue.

The NFL has a problem. As evidenced by the recent Kansas City ChiefsNew England Patriots game, the current challenge system just doesn’t cut it. As it is, the NFL challenge system is basically “We want to get all of the calls right, unless you don’t have a challenge flag. Then we do not care.” To be fair, the NFL has been able to mitigate some of the major problems that could arise from this rule. Scoring plays and turnovers are automatically subject to review. This is a good start, but there is still a major problem with the system.

Why the NFL Challenge System Needs Revamping

Hole in the Rulebook

Touchdowns and turnovers are automatically subject to review. However, there is a side of similar plays that are not reviewed. These are the plays that have a chance to be a touchdown or turnover but were not called as such on the field. This is a hole in the rulebook. If an NFL coach is out of challenges, and a call like this happens, it will not be fixed. As we all saw in the previous Patriots-Chiefs matchup, N’Keal Harry was robbed of a touchdown because the Patriots were out of challenges. The rulebook simply did not care enough to get the correct call. I am not sure why this is the case. There is an incredibly easy solution.

How to Fix It

What I am proposing is not original, it is not groundbreaking, and it is a no-brainer. The NFL should simply follow the route of the AAF. Although the AAF ended up folding, it had some great ideas that the NFL has not allowed for whatever reason. One of these ideas was the Sky Judge. The role of the sky judge is to reverse any egregious mistake made by the referees. Everything is reviewable, and the aforementioned judge will use his discretion to correct any errors. Since he/she would be isolated from the field of play, he would have an All-22 view of the game. Ideally, any play would be reviewable. The chutzpah of having some plays be reviewable but some plays not be reviewable needs to end. Every play should be subject to review, and the NFL needs to adopt this mentality to improve their product.

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