This football-loving nation once again was witness to an apparent missed call by the officials, this time Monday night in the Texans-Raiders game in Mexico City. Bill O’Brien may have had a touchdown taken away from his team on the sixth play of the game … maybe, if DeAndre Hopkins was actually in bounds, and if it could have been corrected on replay. Watch the play,
This football-loving nation once again was witness to an apparent missed call by the officials, this time Monday night in the Texans-Raiders game in Mexico City. Bill O’Brien may have had a touchdown taken away from his team on the sixth play of the game … maybe, if DeAndre Hopkins was actually in bounds, and if it could have been corrected on replay.
Watch the play,
O’Brien was unhappy. He was very measured in his words — after all, his words might end up being measured in dollars later this week.
But he wasn’t wrong.
Especially this part:
"We've got all these cameras and you can't get that right? I didn't think Hopkins was out of bounds, but the whistle had blown so I couldn't challenge that play even though I threw my flag."
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It’s hard to tell what’s more aggravating about Monday night. There’s the part where an official, who was doing nothing more than watching Hopkins run, didn’t see where his foot landed. There’s also the part where there was no mechanism to correct a mistake — either in the rule about reviewing a play concerning a play blown dead, or in having a conclusive camera angle available.
It might even be the part that the biggest officiating faux pas came later, when they struggled to simply spot the ball. Try to put that aside for now.
It might be none of the above … and the most aggravating thing is that in November of 2016, we’re having the same argument over and over again, and there’s no solution in sight.
And that a $13 billion industry keeps coming up short on ways to fix this.
Dean Blandino will once again catch hell the rest of this week, even though explaining how the rules affect that play is all he can do. It’s not up to him to find a way to correct a very human mistake like thinking someone went out of bounds when he didn’t.
And even if there was a way, it’s not up to him to put cameras, or sensors, or something high-tech-y, on all boundaries to answer every question and resolve every dispute about who’s in bounds, who broke the plane and everything else.
Of course, asking the NFL to take an extra step to eliminate confusion about a call is a risk in itself. Remember how badly we all wanted clarification about what is and isn’t a catch? Remember how on Sunday night, when Jordy Nelson sort of caught a touchdown pass in Washington, everything felt unclear again?
Still, the often-suggested addition of cameras on all boundaries seems too simple to have not been done already. At the 2015 league meetings, the rules committee tabled Bill Belichick’s proposal to do just that — the same year they approved the longer extra point, and a year after lengthening the uprights. The longer uprights gave the officials a needed helping hand. This takes that idea an extra step.
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Monday night might have been the perfect opportunity — a marquee primetime game, their heavy investment in Mexico City and in international fandom in general, ESPN’s presence.
There’s a camera in the pylon now. The sky-cams are now routine at every game and have changed everything about how broadcasts look. Fans, reporters and observers from all over on Monday night asked, very reasonably, why tennis has technology for out-of-bounds situations, but not the NFL.
Once again, look and listen to O’Brien. Don’t worry about whether he should or shouldn’t have said it, or if he should or shouldn’t be fined for it.
Worry about whether he’s right, and whether anyone plans to do something about it.