The NFL Needs a “Ref in The Sky”

Confessions of a Sports Nut The NFL Needs a “Ref in The Sky”

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Since it didn’t affect the Ravens, you might not have been all that outraged by what happened in Dallas on Sunday in the “Interference Bowl”, but I’ll go ahead and cover for you here today at RSR.

It was a disgrace.

I wrote about the league’s shoddy and occasionally even “suspect” officiating last month and now, with the Lions season potentially ending because of that call on Sunday, it’s time to bring it up again. However, I’m going to go ahead and offer a solution rather than just blow up again about that horrendous call that was gifted to Jason Garrett’s team.

Let me first say this for clarity: I’m not 100% sure the Lions would have won that game on Sunday if the interference call would have stuck on that play. Detroit was in the process of doing what they have done EVERY YEAR of their existence. Which is to say, they were in the process of figuring out a way to NOT get to the Super Bowl, having once owned a 20-7 lead in Dallas before seeing that evaporate.

My guess is they probably wouldn’t have won, because that’s what the Lions do.

But that in no way means the right call was made on that play.

Can you imagine, just by putting a Ravens helmet on those Detroit players and a Steelers helmet on those Cowboys players, what you would have thought on Saturday night if the exact same play happened and the flag was picked up after a Pittsburgh cornerback was initially found guilty of pass interference?

We’d still be losing sleep over that.

When the Ravens missed out on a chance to go to the Super Bowl in Harbaugh’s first season because Daren Stone hit a Pittsburgh player out of bounds on a fourth quarter kick-off, we all knew that was the RIGHT call. It was a dumb penalty — at the worst time you could pick — but it was also the proper call at the time.

You can handle it when a tough call goes against your team if it’s something as obvious as what Stone did in that AFC Championship Game in 2009. You don’t LIKE it, but you accept it.

What happened in Dallas on Sunday was completely unacceptable.

Now, the solution: All of the TV networks employ a former NFL official as their “expert” on matters such as calls, rules application, etc. He is typically situated somewhere OTHER than the stadium — except perhaps in the Super Bowl — and has the ability to see the replay and make an assessment on its accuracy without hearing the players, coaches and fans react to it there, in the stadium.

In situations like we saw on Sunday, where there’s a dispute of some sort between the officiating crew, why not turn to a league-designated “official in the booth” who is permitted to look at the replay and make a decision on what the proper call should have been?

This is not someone who gets used for anything other than disputes about calls or rules applications. (When flags are thrown and picked up, for example).

I think we can all agree that had that option been in place on Sunday, the “ref in the sky” would have said, “Hey, look guys, that was pass interference. I’ve looked at it five times here and it’s very obvious. You got it right the first time.”

That would likely take as much time — perhaps less — than a typical coach’s challenge.

And it would keep the games on the level.

Right now, it looks like the games are starting to rival professional wrestling with the referees turning their back at precisely the time the bad guy pulls a bag of salt out of his sock and throws it in the eyes of the good guy.

In other words, the referees look like they don’t know what they’re doing.

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Drew Forrester

About Drew Forrester

A Maryland native since birth, Drew was born in the same hospital (Easton Memorial) as Harold Baines, attended the same high school (Glen Burnie) as Brandon Albert of the Dolphins and once drove the par-4 16th hole at Mountain Branch only to see former Orioles 2nd baseman Bill Ripken on the green with his brother, Cal. As Drew approached the green, Bill yelled out, "Hey man, watch it! That ball went through my legs up here." Embarrassed and apologetic, but never one to miss a chance at a classic dig, Drew barked back, "Just like the old days at Memorial Stadium!" Let's hope his time at RSR is error-free, as Drew brings "Confessions of a Sports Nut" exclusively to Russell Street Report. More from Drew Forrester

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