When it was announced during the offseason that an NFL official in a booth would automatically review all touchdowns, you could almost hear the collective groan from football fans.
Replay reviews suck the life out of football games. Adding another element -- the booth official looking at all scoring plays and then buzzing the referee if it was close enough to warrant a look under the hood -- would make that even longer. The fear was that anything remotely questionable would get a second look and the games would take 15 minutes longer because of the mind-numbingly-slow process that is the NFL replay system.
Thursday night provided a glimmer of hope that it may not be that way after all. Devery Henderson of the Saints scored a 29-yard touchdown in which he looked close to stepping out of bounds at the 5-yard line.
Replays didn't conclusively show that Henderson stayed in bounds, nor did they show that his foot hit the white sideline. Even though it was close, the official in the booth didn't think it warranted further review, the touchdown stood and a sigh of relief went up amongst fans who wanted to go to sleep before midnight on the East Coast.
That's what replay review should be: Someone in the booth looking at a play and quickly determining whether or not there's enough definitive evidence to overturn. I can't say what was going through the mind of the NFL official in the booth, but I imagine it was something like, "That's pretty close but after three angles I've seen, I can't tell either way, so let's go with the call on the field."
And, yes, I realize that it's only one game and I'm going to look back on this in 72 hours after the booth official in the Eagles-Rams game buzzes every touchdown and weep. But for now, at least there's hope.
- Devery Henderson